Guerrilla Marketing Bombs In Boston
In full-page advertisements appearing in Boston newspapers today (Friday), Turner Broadcasting Co. apologized for a marketing stunt gone so wrong that the city was plunged into paralysis. The "guerrilla marketing" stunt involved placing battery-driven light boxes that displayed a character from Turner's Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force throughout Boston and other cities. The boxes created a security scare that led to the shutting down of major roads and subway systems. The Boston Globe reported today that Turner had agreed to reimburse the city for the costs of the security scramble, estimated to be more than $500,000. Two employees of Interference Inc., the New York marketing agency hired by Turner to implement the campaign, were arraigned on criminal charges Thursday. Appearing before reporters the two dodged questions, saying they wished to address the issue of long hair in the 1970s. (ABC News later reported that one of the men, Peter Berdovsky, had sent an email message to a colleague before his arrest saying that he had received a message from his boss at the ad agency "asking that I pretty please keep everything on the dl [down low]," i.e. quiet. In an interview with today's Wall Street Journal, Kelly O'Keefe, director of executive education at the Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter, said, "This has to rank as the most significant blunder in the world of guerrilla advertising. ... This is an irrational act. It is really guerrilla marketing gone awry and it is inexcusable."