No Such Thing As Bad Publicity?

From Random Notions’ Business At The Speed Of Stupid file.

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. In a way, that may be true. Take the new movie, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, due to be released later this spring. I may never have heard of this were it not for the stupid advertising stunt played by the producers.

Interference Inc., a New York-based advertising agency, created 38 display ads and had them scattered around Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The ads looked like home-made Lite-Brite contraptions, and featured a character from the animated flick giving you the finger. Lame, but innocuous for the most part. At least, it would have been if people hadn’t panicked.

Several of the ads were positioned under bridges, along highways, and near subway and bus stations. Passersby in Boston feared the devices were bombs. They called 911. The mayor got involved. He called Homeland Security.

As one might expect in our paranoid, orange-alert conscious world, this didn’t go over so well with some people. In short, something hit the fan.

Jim Samples, General Manager of Cartoon Network, a division of Turner Broadcasting, itself a division of Time Warner Inc., issued a public apology and resigned. He said he felt “compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch.” One wonders whether the fact that Turner agreed to pay $2 million to compensate Boston for the panic the stunt induced may have played a factor in that compulsion.

The effluence didn’t land only on Samples. The two Boston artists contracted to set up the blinking ads, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, were charge with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. They’ve pleaded not guilty and will be back in court in March. Undoubtedly they’ll use the “artist” label as a shield.

Still, all of this is great publicity. Even if you don’t live in one of the cities targeted, you’ve now heard about Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. Sorry.