The suspicious packages that caused alarm in the Boston area today were part of a viral marketing campaign, ABC News is reporting. The campaign for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" prompted mass transit delays and the closure of a major highway on Wednesday, after reports of suspicious packages were fielded by area police. As many as nine objects were found; several were attached to bridges and subway stations in high-traffic areas. Turner Broadcasting, which owns the Cartoon Network, told ABC that the objects were magnetic lights. The company placed these lights in Boston and nine other cities around the country several weeks ago. (For the link to ABC News' article, click here.) The company has apologized for the scare.
The ad campaign and resulting hubbub comes at a time when outdoor advertising is undergoing a creative renaissance, as Max Chafkin reports in this month's issue. (You can read Chafkin's article "Ads and Atmospherics" here.)
What do you think? Does this show the limits of attention-grabbing outdoor/viral marketing campaigns? Should Turner do more to make amends to the fine people of my former hometown, Boston? And could this potentially be a blessing in disguise? Do you think ratings for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" will jump in Boston following today's wall-to-wall media exposure?