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One of our sister publications, Promo Magazine, has written a great piece interviewing the two marketers behind last month's promotion-turned-terrorist-scare for the Cartoon Network's upcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.

It's every marketer's worst nightmare: a promotion gone terribly wrong.

Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System learned some hard lessons about post-Sept. 11 marketing in January when it ran a street campaign that turned into a bomb scare in Boston. The problem? People mistook the blinking circuit-like boards erected on bridges and other infrastructure for bombs.

The stunt was designed to promote Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force TV show, part of the network's late-night adult programming. Instead, it shut down the city and raised fears about terrorism. The campaign, which was virtually unnoticed in nine other markets, created chaos for all involved — including Interference, the agency that ran it, and two men who help execute the campaign.

Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, are due back in court this month on charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.

Jim Samples took the fall for Cartoon Network. The former executive vice president and general manager resigned last month.

And the flap is far from over. At press time, Dr. Pepper scrapped a promotion after Boston officials wouldn't allow treasure-hunt in the historic Granary Burying Ground. Sources both in and out of the industry are questioning the value of guerrilla marketing (seen by many consumers as mischief or nuisance marketing.)

Now perhaps they can track down the folks responsible for this misguided PSA on mall safety.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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