The east coast is seized in fear as invaders from the moon are discovered throughout the city of Boston! Massive mobilization of policemen and firemen causes havoc for everyday Bostonians! The city is shut down with highways and waterways cut off! Wicked scary! Two men are held accountable as a mayor promises swift retribution!
The '30s newsreel tone seemed appropriate since this seems like a rehashing of Orson Welles' old War of the Worlds radio play. Except for the three-week delayed reaction... (plus the fact that these guys are "Mooninites" from the moon rather than Mars ;-)
The Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla marketing idea was neat, and I'd think it was cool if I saw one of the little signs somewhere. Unfortunately, guerilla marketing is of limited value, since it tends to use inside jokes to sell to people who already know about something, or it simply attempts to grab headlines. I think of the blimp that was floating around downtown Minneapolis a year or two ago with an obscure message. It turned out to be advertising the launch of an evening newscast on KMSP channel 9. Whee... How exciting...
There are regulations about various types of advertising, and this probably violated something. As for the terrorism bent to the story, the Boston officials just need to accept the fact that they overreacted. They want someone to pay for their mistake. Sure, the company that was doing the marketing should probably get fined for illegal placement of advertising materials, but I don't think the two employees who they put in jail should take most of the blame.
I'll have to count the number of times that this gets called a "bomb hoax" in the media from this point on, since that's not what it is. Actually, there'd been another campaign in the Los Angeles area for Mission: Impossible III last year which was much closer to being a bomb hoax, with electronic devices being placed inside newspaper stands which had microswitches linked to the box's door. It was meant to play the Mission: Impossible theme when the newspaper box was opened. The bomb squad got called out and did a controlled explosion on one of them.
But hidden black boxes with microswitches is one thing. Flashing Lite-Brite panels with a character easily identifiable to anyone who has cable TV and the occasional case of insomnia is something different.
The marketing folks should have notified the city of the boxes before they went up, but they didn't (well, at least I haven't heard that they did). Of course, it's 90% likely the city would either deny the request to put them up, or the marketers would have to wade through nine months of red tape to do it. I'm sure most people who saw them figured they were advertising gimmicks or discarded toys. I can't blame the person who eventually called it in, since it would definitely look weird to some people. Heck, it's a cartoon giving the middle finger—not something that a Boston urbanite should be surprised to see, considering graffiti and all, but I can understand the worry.
However, the reactions of city officials once the call got placed into the 911 operator and worked its way up the chain just caused things to go haywire. Someone should have been able to defuse the human side of the equation before the bomb squad got called in.Posted by mike at February 1, 2007 02:17 PM | Politics , TV , The Media