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September 21, 2014

Boston and the ATHF: the day after

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 1st 2007 1:15PM

So I watched the TV coverage all day long of the Boston "bombs" that turned out to be electronic devices promoting Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And I think it was screwed up on every angle (media, Turner Broadcasting), but the people who deserve the least amount of second guessing from us are the Boston police and city officials.

I mean, they were doing their job. We can't expect every police officer, every city official, every politician, to be hip to what ATHF is. And even if they were, so what? A bomb can't be placed in something with a wacky cartoon character on it? Yeah, they were up for a couple of weeks, but in this day and age you can't be too careful, especially since these things were put in some really odd public places.

The people to blame most are Turner and the marketing company they hired, for not getting this information to the city beforehand or at least to CNN really early (and for not thinking this entire campaign through, and the news stations in the Boston area. They not only didn't know what the Cartoon Network was, they have absolutely no concept of what viral marketing or guerilla marketing is. Even today they are calling guerilla marketing a "new way of advertising." Gah.

I wonder why this didn't cause a panic in NYC or the other cities where the ads were placed?

And to see the raised middle finger of the ATHF blurred out on all of the newscasts...well, that was hysterical. Lost Remote has some great coverage, as does Boston.com and Bostonist. Here is the official statement from Turner.

Update: the Adult Swim site has an apology too.

Update on the Update: Press conference from the guys arrested. "That's not a hair question, I'm sorry." I wonder if these guys will have a comedy deal before the week is over?

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Emily

If a person called in a suspicious device the police are obligated to check it out. If they spot 3 of the 4 parts of a bomb power supply (batteries); detonator (variety of things can look like that); timer (ditto as before); and the charge (stuff that goes boom) then they are going to treat it as a possible explosive device. These folks can't just grab it and shake it and say "it's only a lite-brite!" If it were your head that might blow off if you are wrong, you might be more sympathetic.

I think a media black out would have been more appropriate, but folks would have been screaming if that happened, too.

February 02 2007 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathan

I mean c'mon at least they didn't try and make someone eat mountains of junk food for tickets to the premiere to have one of the contestants have a heart attack from too much cholesterol.

February 01 2007 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
forgeten

When ever you hear the phrase "post 9-11 world" what follows is always idioticy

February 01 2007 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
liz

Okay look, I live in Boston and I saw these things around my bus route last week and immediately knew what they were - not just because I watch ATHF but because they were IDENTICAL TO THE BILLBOARDS THAT ARE ALL AROUND THE CITY advertising the movie. City officials took 8 hours to figure out what all the 20 year olds in Allston could have told them in 5 seconds, and you want to argue that there wasn't a massive screw-up here??

Your average Bostonian probably didn't know a thing about this incident until the T was already reopened (noone in my office did, and I work in the middle of the city) and yet the media continued to hype it up well into the night with "BOMB HOAX" and threatening photoshopped imagery. Over a Lite-Brite! My god are our city officials out of touch. If just one media-savvy person worked for the city this thing could have been solved with a quick phone call before any of our money was wasted.

There's a reason Boston is the only city this happened in: it's run by idiots and our news outlets are crap.

February 01 2007 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jon

Personally, I can't stop laughing about this.

February 01 2007 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Malky

In response to LC: "Bob is correct. Terrorists, whether foreign or our local home grown nutbags can't plant their bombs in goofy packaging? If someone planted a package with Scooby doo's picture on it with wires and a pack strapped with duct tape on a seat in a plane or on the side of the G.W Bridge, should we all ignore it? Maybe the media went on ad nauseum about it, but I commend the Police for being alert enough to do something about it."

You're right, the police should be checking out suspicious items. And these ads were suspicious, and each and every one of them should have been examined.

But neither Turner nor the guys who put up these ads are responsible for the overreaction on the part of the city government. The officials are the ones who made this into a mess, and they should take the fall for it. They took a bunch of suspicious boxes and blew them way out of proportion. That isn't anyone's fault but their own.

Oh, and the inane reporters who didn't do their homework. But that isn't really a shocker, is it?

February 01 2007 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BillS

Turner and the guerilla marking company are not blame-free here. First, there are laws about where you can and can't put stuff like that. Second, why on earth would you not put a label or some contact info on those things? So they should be fined or whatever for putting advertising in places where you're not supposed to put it.

I can't say I really blame the cops either, though boy do I blame the media. I walked by a tv at work and saw the thing about "suspicious packages" and started talking to a coworker, discussing what stupid non-threatening thing it would turn out to be. We were sure it was not terrorism, but the news guys were talking like Osama Bin Laden was running around Quincy Market with C4 strapped to his chest.

February 01 2007 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LC

I agree Akbar. The media are the ones really blowing it out of proportion. I don't even think these two guys should be charged. They were hired to hang these things up and for all they knew, Turner Broadcasting had the proper permits to do so.

If I were their lawyer or even their parents, I would have advised them not only to not talk about the incident, but to not talk to the press at all. Laughing and making hair jokes is only going to make it tougher for their attorneys to make this thing go away.

February 01 2007 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

I feel their "antics" at the press conference are perfect. Their lawyer advised them not to talk about the whole thing. The media deserves to be played for blowing it way out of proportion and being a major cause of the panic yesterday.

February 01 2007 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

I feel they are playing the media exactly how they need to be played. THE MEDIA is at fault for blowing this thing totally out of proportion.

February 01 2007 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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