I am of two minds this morning on the whole Boston/Cartoon Network fiasco which you've already read about here, here and here or maybe you saw it as the lead story on the Today Show and nearly every other major news outlet this morning.
My first mind says that this tactic should never have seen the light of day. Part of our job is to be culturally aware. We're the ones who are supposed to know what everyday people are thinking and feeling. The country, as a whole, is jumpy as hell about terrorism. 24 has built its new season around nukes going off in L.A. Entertainment reflects culture. The country is living with some fear. Read any consumer study and it'll confirm it. So, right now, placing plastic stuff with batteries and wires under bridges and in public places is just a dumb thing to do. Even if it just looks like a big Lite Brite. Every political leader, every canned airport voice and even other ad campaigns tell us to be aware and report anything suspicious. And the cops have no choice but to respond to a possible bomb on a major commuter route. Responsible people within the approval chain should have had some light bulbs go off in their heads. Packages of any sort left under bridges, on Subways or buses, are just begging to misinterpreted no matter how well art directed they are.
That said, my second mind feels awful for all the creative people involved. Dumb idea or not, I know all they wanted to do was provide a little theatre for bored rat-racers. And, as many commenter's on other blogs have noted, the target audience sure didn't run screaming from it. In fact, the target seems to be rallying for the advertiser. Some say there's no such thing as bad press. I don't believe that. One guy is in jail. The agency yanked its Web site down. No one is sitting around with big smiles are their faces. Least of all Ted Turner. We've all had lapses in judgment. Most times though, those don't end up the talk of the country. It has got to be a real nightmare for those involved.
Still, there are consequences to our actions, and the consequences here have a ripple effect on you and me. Everyone in the industry get whacked with the same bat when something like this goes down. "Look at them! How far will they go to push their brain-washing techniques on us!" If governors or mayors are talking about a campaign that doesn't have something to do with tourism you know someone has really stepped in it. That's where we stand today.
Update: Looks like I'm wrong about the nightmare part for those involved. These guys don't seem to be concerned at all.
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