Thu. Feb 01, 2007
You’ve certainly heard the story by now. But, my, what a lovely lead: “Authorities have arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River.“
An electronic moon man closed a river in Boston. And that’s not the most ridiculous part of the story.
Turner Broadcasting said in written statements the devices had been placed around Boston and nine other cities in recent weeks as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the show.
“We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger,” Phil Kent, CEO and chairman of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., said in one of two statements issued by the company.
Well, of course, what else could they do but apologize. But given the hub-bub raised against them, they couldn’t apologize thusly:
“We’re sorry our country has become so extraordinarily afraid of terrorism that our silly excuse for a marketing campaign was mistaken for an actual bomb plot. In retrospect, we feel it hardly even qualified as a marketing campaign, never mind a bomb plot.”
“We’re sorry this country has reached the point where every odd smell in downtown Manhattan, every prank by some obvious web goober, every unruly woman on an airplane, or every jokester college student playing with dry ice ... is immediately construed as a terroristic act.”
No, they couldn’t say that at all. But it’s true.
Today I watched two of the most harmless looking goofballs being led off to jail for having placed these “things” in the Boston area. “Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sean Stevens, 28, were facing charges of placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The hoax charge is a felony, she said [...] ‘It had a very sinister appearance,’ Coakley told reporters. ‘It had a battery behind it, and wires.’“
“Sinister appearing things with batteries and wires” might describe half the toys sold for boys these days. But these guys are facing a felony. For distributing these “things” with “a very sinister appearance”:
Frankly, I’m not sure that would scare my two year old niece.
Not long ago here in Atlanta, we had a midtown high rise evacuated because someone found what they thought was a bomb on an upper floor. They said it was a big stack of oversize red sticks labelled “TNT,” with a rope coming out of it. Turns out it was a stored “prop” for an advertising agency in the building. Again, the problem is clearly those dastardly advertising agencies, but at least in that case you could say it was an honest overreaction to a Wile E. Coyote cartoon bomb.
In this case … not so much. Look at that photo again. It looks like a late 70’s vintage video game prototype. And a bad one, at that. But still, apparently enough to get a corporate body deep in the doo.
The statement from Kent said Turner Broadcasting deeply regrets “the hardships experienced as a result of this incident.” But Coakley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and others said the statement offering an apology was not enough, and did not rule out criminal charges or a civil suit to recover the estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars it cost the city to respond to the bomb scares.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis called it “unconscionable” that the marketing campaign was executed in a post 9/11 era. “It’s a foolish prank on the part of Turner Broadcasting,” he said. “In the environment nowadays … we really have to look at the motivation of the company here and why this happened.”
Yes, let’s do look at how and where this happened: “Turner Broadcasting said the devices had been in place for two to three weeks in Boston; New York; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.“
So, it seems to me one of two things is true. Either nine of the ten cities have horrid anti-terrorism policing and only Boston was on the ball. Or … one of the ten cities completely overreacted to something that caused nary a peep in nine others.
You be the judge. Either way…
A Turner source said the displays were a component of a third-party advertising campaign conducted by a New York advertising firm, Interference Inc., which had no comment on the incident.
Earlier, Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll called Wednesday’s incidents “a colossal waste of money.”
You see, it wasn’t Turner, it was one of their vendors. One of those “New York advertising firms.” The source of all evil, long before Al Qaeda. And given that they caused no notice in nine major cities, I think we can at least all agree that this marketing campaign was indeed a colossal waste of money, all around.
The last word goes to Pablo: “The country that survived the Great Depression, fought a titanic war on two fronts, sent a man to the Moon and invented Cheez-Whiz was brought to its knees by an LED.“