A cartoon's guerilla marketing campaign virtually shut down part of Boston yesterday, prompting the closing of a highway, part of the Charles River and the deployment of bomb squads.
Blinking electric signs featuring a Mooninite, an alien character from the Cartoon Network's Acqua Teen Hunger Force show, were placed in high-profile spots across the city. The 1-foot signs resembled a circuit board, with protruding wires and batteries.
Boston officials are seeking $500,000 for the cost of the response, and vowed to prosecute those responsible for the campaign. The same signs were also featured in ten major cities coast to coast. READ MORE
Are Boston officials being too harsh on an ad campaign gone awry, or should Turner Broadcasting pay up? E-mail us and jump into the discussion!
Here's what FOX fans are saying:
"Bostonian government officials seem to be nut cases. If they had competent officials analyze the devices, they would determined the signs were not dangerous. Did the other cities go into a panic?" — Ramon
"Turner should pay financially, and criminal charges should be pressed where warranted. It is time we take Homeland Security seriously. No airline passenger will make a joke about hijacking the plane they are on - it’s a criminal offense. We have enough stress in our lives, without this stupidity." — Steve
"I do not think Boston is being too tough at all. This childish and thoughtless prank, especially in light of the terrorist threat now present in this world, was ill conceived and those responsible should be held accountable, both financially and legally." — Mark (Immerman, MN)
"The city of Boston is trying to save face, for not catching these people putting up the signs in the first place. Maybe all ten cities can learn from this- beef up security and pay attention. This is a botch on the police in Boston and they should take the hit on the prank." — Greg (St. Louis, AR)
"Get a grip; apparently the devices have been up for several weeks. The only thing that appears to be happening is an embarrassment to the city and it's police department. To be harassing the people that put them up is disgusting; they were low-level minions doing a job. If you want to arrest someone, arrest Ted Turner. Get a life, these constant reminders of the Bush perpetrated terrorist scares is an outrage. Grow up if this was a real terrorist situation they would have blown up long ago; not weeks after they were in place." — Tinnes
"No, Boston is not overreacting to this hoax. The network can call it whatever it wants, but they had to know it would evoke an immense response. Well, it did. Now they must pay. Not only should they be fined and arrested, the network should be shut down. The example is needed to fend off any future similar idiocy." — Bob
"Beyond all the first responders who may have been redirected from more important duties (like actual emergencies), beyond the thousands of regular people who were inconvenienced, beyond all the businesses slowed by their employees being delayed, beyond the monetary costs of this insipid "stunt" (since instilling panic and fear is a basic terrorist tactic), the ultimate question of responsibility lies with: What happens when some copycat employs this strategy to plant real, dangerous devices? What happens to the people harmed? Where will Time- Warner, Turner Broadcasting and Adult Swim be then?" — Tom (Dracut, MA)
"Turner's marketing concept of a gadget with wires, batteries, and a cartoon character giving the finger to passersby speaks volumes. Boston should be reimbursed not only for its costs, but for its aggravation." — Phil
"What a bunch of idiots! Even though he is filthy rich, I don't think Turner should pay a cent for government worker's stupidity and their over-reaction caused by post 9/11 paranoia. The Boston officials were made to look like fools. They are trying to vilify Turner and place the blame on him, when what they really need to do is look in the mirror for the culprits causing the mass-hysteria in Boston." — Brian
"I laughed until tears were rolling down my cheeks. Even here on the wacky west coast we knew that these were not dangerous. Those officials in Boston are nothing but a bad joke." — John (Seattle, WA)
"This is so typical. 9-11 made everyone so paranoid, not to stop terrorism, but more to try and affix blame for anything suspicious. If the best terrorists could do is scare us with what looks like a blinking "Lite-Brite," I'll sleep a lot better at night. What does make me lose sleep is the lunatics in office that are terrified by something so simple and get so "gun-shy" that they try to take away even more of our rights. What happened to common sense? People need to focus on what's important and less on "who's to blame." It's an ad campaign, get over it Boston. If these things were so scary why didn't the general population of the other cities with the same signs freak out?" — Lanty
"Ted Turner, Turner Broadcasting have a moral obligation to know what type of advertising is going up their names. They cannot get away from the fact that the buck stops at their company. Turner and company should reimburse the City of Boston, The US Coast Guard, the Massachusetts State Police, the business who had major losses from the action, and class action payments to anyone stuck in the traffic. It was a joke that could have had people killed in the chaos." —Daniel
"I believe the city of Boston is going a little overboard due to their own embarrassment. Yes, it caused a lot of problems due to being cautious, but prosecution of individuals that were doing their jobs is a little much. I agree that Turner broadcasting should pay for the cost of resources, but that should be the end of it. Supposedly, these devices have been around for up to 2 weeks and they were just found. I believe that is where the embarrassment is coming from. Plus it gets the local officials face in the national spotlight." — Cory
"I understand the reasons for the over-reaction by the Boston Security Personnel. In today's world, it was not an over reaction. I think they should react in this way even if someone calls in and says don't worry is all just and add campaign. They may be lying. I think the cartoon producer is liable for the cost of the reaction forces, but not criminally liable." — Dave
"The fact that Boston was shut down, due to an ad campaign for something that looks like Spongebob with an attitude, does not reflect badly on Cartoon Network. Rather, it reflects badly, really badly, on the powers that be in Boston. Their response was way over the top. Its not about a reaction in a post 911 world -- it was their creation of a crisis that didn't exist that is the point. If the people arrested face jail time, it won't really be for their part in the ad campaign, it will be because someone has to pay for the egg on the face of Boston City government and how they handled it all." — Diane (New Hampshire)
"I have been in Advertising for 28 years, and this just proves that this shock style of Advertising just doesn't have a place in today's world. The agency in NY is the real culprit "Interference Inc." Very appropriate name -- kind of ironic." — Greg