Guerrilla Marketing Panic




February 1, 2007 at 2:10 am

· Filed under ,




This is classic…

The Boston-area bomb scare that made for high drama on Wednesday afternoon’s nationwide news broadcasts, most notably CNN, was the result of…

{wait for it}

… , a cartoon TV show run on a channel owned by Turner Broadcasting Inc., the parent company of CNN.

So, not only was an ad campaign allowed to wreck havoc on an entire city — snarling traffic, spooking citizens, tying up law enforcement and shuttering businesses — it also co-opted CNN’s afternoon broadcasting for hours, making for terrific ratings I am sure.

It would be funny if it weren’t so bloody obvious that the ad execs knew exactly what they were doing… I mean, come on, who the hell would have been able to remember a TV show with an inane name like, “,” if it weren’t for a BOMB SCARE panic and nationwide news coverage?

I guess the marketing wonks couldn’t wait until the Super Bowl to start pulling out all the stops?

In other news…

It’s 2:41 3:36 AM. I’ve been up since 1 AM.

This pregnancy thing? … it’s starting to get a little old. Even laugh-out-loud funny baby kicks and wiggles don’t trump GERD/acid reflux/heartburn; insomnia; the ever-so-wonderful sensation that’s best described as having been riding an ill-fitting road bicycle for 100+ miles; a waddle and a limp, because my pelvis is literally spreading; and the ever-present feeling that if I move too quickly, I might just rip right down the middle of my abdomen because the skin’s pulled so taut.

I know, I know, laugh and point… I hear your, “HAHA! Not so fun, now, eh? Just wait until labor and delivery!”

Know what?

Karma’s a bitch… or, to steal

phrase, beware “the Karmic boomerang”!




Archives from One Year Ago –,


February 1, 2007


The Mooninites would be pleased with Boston’s reaction.

Panic and confusion serve their dark purposes and will only encourage them to continue their reign of terror.

Also, the Mooninites are complete morons (not to mention fictitious, but anyway) and that they were able to successfully disrupt an entire American city is very telling…

Seriously, the first person that uttered “bomb” in the whole affair should be the one arrested for creating the “wave of fear.”

Boston’s news media could and should have immediately put the kibosh on the thing as someone at one of their local stations would certainly have recognized the character, made one phone call, and verified that it was a marketing campaign — and a pretty successful one.

February 1, 2007


I’m usually one of the first to side with the “Have we all completely lost our MINDS?” camp when it comes to hyper-sensitivity to all things out of the norm, and the rush to assume such things are sinister. The behavior is especially prevalent post 9/11.

That said, I do think this “ad campaign” was taken too far.

I understand Boston’s the only city that seems to have had any public panic or bomb squad issue with the “Lite Brite” like signs, which have been in place for 2-3 weeks, but I object on two counts. One — there is, like it or not, a reasonable assumption that something electronic, wholly out of place (stuck to a beam in a bridge tunnel, etc.), without any context or accompanying “buzz marketing” that I’m aware of, etc. could be construed by some as something sinister and worth investigating. REAL BOMBS have come in far more innocuous packages (an unattended backpack in Centennial Olympic Park during the Atlanta Olympics, unattended cellphones and cars elsewhere…), afterall.

My other objection is the typical corporate marketing need to do things in EXCESS.

For example, per one article I’ve read, there were no fewer that

that the police had removed in Philadelphia, and 41 were found in New York. What the ad agency has done is basically

employed graffiti or visual/physical spam, “tagging” cities with their signage in obscure but high traffic areas for personal gain. This is, to me, a classic case of the need for corporate responsibility, otherwise we’re basically saying if you have enough money, you are free to pull off any stunt you want, logic and proper behavior be damned.

The other problem is, now that this has happened, all it takes is someone getting ahold of one of those silly light board signs or making something similar, and putting a real bomb on it, and it’ll be a little harder to smugly think this “Aqua Teen” ad campaign was really a clever idea. Bomb squads are taught to investigate every suspicious package as if it’s a live bomb, and for good reason… it’s no fun when something goes BOOM.

February 1, 2007


As a fan of ATHF (5 genius seasons worth), I thought the campaign was beautifully executed.

Plus they have a movie coming out soon …

Remember, ATHF is THE SHOW that brought us such classics as:

“The branch is holding. ITS NOT HOLDING!”


“I wanna rock your body and in parenthesis (till the break of dawn)”

Oh, and the part where the two guys arrested for placing the advertisements stated that they were taking questions only about haircuts in the 1970s from reports… so awesome.

February 1, 2007


On the need for companies to advertise responsibly, sure.

However, there wasn’t due diligence on the part of the city or the local media to mitigate the ripple of fear.

In fact, it’s more likely the news media ignored any notion that this may have been a marketing stunt because fewer people would have been glued to their sets.

And I think the mayor’s angry reaction and fervent resolve to see people hang for this is fueled, in part, by embarrassment that someone even managed to plant all these “suspicious devices” throughout his city, undetected by Boston authorities.

As for inspiring terrorists to use lite brites as delivery vehicles for destruction, I also disagree.

A couple weeks ago, I drove into work and noticed these over-sized, over-decorated guitar sculptures along the sidewalks of the main drag as well as side streets.

Where did they come from?

They weren’t there the day before.

Now, granted, nobody thought these (abominable) sculptures were bombs, but wouldn’t a terrorist pick something a little less conspicuous than street art to deliver his message anyway?

And where do we draw the line?

What if they weren’t guitars?

What if they were giant lite brites?

I think giant lite brites would be easily dismissed as street art.

So exactly how small does street art have to be before we activate the bomb disposal units and the National Guard?

Also, generally speaking, the modus operandi of terrorists is suicide attack (excepting domestic terrorists, a la mcveigh).

But all that aside, and nevermind that the devices were all harmless (aside from freaking the crap out of people), Boston will now spend millions of dollars to beef up its security because this false alarm exploited a bunch of holes in its terrorism defenses.

Lite brites will no longer be sold in stores within 50 miles of the city limits.

All street art will be banned.

And anyone caught doing anything remotely suspicious (malicious or not) that throws more than, say, 15 people into a pant-wetting panic will deemed an enemy of the state and thrown into jail for no fewer than 5 years.

I’m not venting at you, Shannon.


I’m just upset that all this irrational fear is being supplanted now by a witch hunt.

Why can’t they just be glad they _weren’t_ bombs?

It’s all gotta be litigious… “I got scared for no reason… that’s pain and suffering, right?”

No, the true pain and suffering is that we’re all so anxious about our butts getting blown to bits ever since 9/11 that we instinctively and irrationally flail wildly at anything that has the appearance of being threatening.

It’s also amazing that so many people accuse our government of doing the same across the ocean, yet we’re doing it as individuals in our own cities.

:: deep breath ::

Sorry for soapboxing.

February 1, 2007


56 of them? Maybe they’ll start showing up on eBay.

‘cept I want one with the Universal Remonster.

[The cable goes out as a result of Shake not paying the bills.]

Frylock: There goes the cable.

Shake: Terrorists!

February 1, 2007


No apologies needed on “soapboxing”, Lee — that’s all I was doing, after all!

There’s a whole lot of responsibility that (so far, it seems) isn’t being accepted by the local and national news media. I don’t fault the law enforcement community for doing their jobs, insofar as retrieving/removing suspicious items (other major cities did just that with the ’suspicious signage’, but without the resulting media fanfare).

I don’t fault the ad geeks for being so flippant during the press conference (which I haven’t seen anything more than the soundbytes of… “I feel pretty good…about my hair,”) as long as they have decent legal counsel (oxymoron?). However, I’m cynical enough that I’m not sure I’d trust a “jury of my peers” to judge fairly, especially considering the number of irate commuters that are among the potential jury pool, so making light of all this is probably not in their best interests.

As for the motives and methods of all the various types of terrorists, I suspect we’d have a lot fewer of these types of false alarm scares if we really had our finger on the pulse of that.

Afterall, we still haven’t figured out who the heck is responsible for the anthrax real-life-scare that plagued the nation for months.

And, my last nibble at your (most excellent) points, is — Lawyers and marketing wonks go hand-in-hand, so I’m not sure there’s much to be surprised about regarding the rush to find someone, somewhere, legally responsible for the resulting embarassment, business and city disruption, public panic, etc.

Doesn’t make it right, but seems pretty much par for this nation’s course.

Leave a Comment


Building a Fitter Geek

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from . Make your own badge .

Copyright © 2006 Shannon D. Moore. All Rights Reserved.·

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.