Boston Officials Livid Over Ad Stunt
Boston Officials Outraged Over Cartoon Publicity Ploy That Sparked Terrorism Fears
By KEN MAGUIRE
BOSTON Feb 1, 2007 (AP)— Boston officials, livid about a publicity campaign that had disrupted the city by stirring fears of terrorism, vowed to prosecute those responsible and seek restitution.
Officials found a slew of blinking electronic signs adorning bridges and other high-profile spots across the city Wednesday, prompting the closing of a highway and the deployment of bomb squads.
The 38 signs were part of a promotion for Cartoon Network TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," a surreal series about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball. The network is a parent of Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc.
"It is outrageous, in a post 9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme," Mayor Thomas Menino said. "I am prepared to take any and all legal action against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates for any and all expenses incurred during the response to today's incidents."
The 1-foot tall signs resembled a circuit board, with protruding wires and batteries. Most depicted a boxy, cartoon character giving passersby the finger a more obvious sight when darkness fell.
Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc., apologized, but Boston authorities are still angry.
They arrested two men who put up the electronic promotions and vowed to hold Turner accountable for what Menino said was "corporate greed," that led to at least $500,000 in police costs.
Turner said the devices have been in place for two to three weeks in 10 cities: Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia. As soon as the company realized the Boston problem, it said, law enforcement officials were told of their locations in all 10 cities.
"We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger," said Phil Kent, Turner chairman.
Kent said the marketing company that placed the signs, Interference Inc., was ordered to remove them immediately. Messages seeking additional comment from the Atlanta-based Cartoon Network were left with several publicists.