Thursday, February 01, 2007


Yesterday, I arrived to work and spent my day perched in my scientific lair high above the city, blissfully unaware of what was going on below. Late in the afternoon, I clicked on and AHHH BOMBS FOUND ALL OVER THE CITY!!! EVERYBODY PANIC! (oh wait, did we say bombs? oops.) I then checked my favorite site for local news, Universal Hub, to learn the whole story.

To sum it up, someone spotted one of these:

at Sullivan Station and was freaked out by a strange, electronic device placed in an area of mass transit. Alert sounded, station closed. 37 more found, many around subway stations and bridges, and the city was essentially shut down. Attack of the killer Lite Brites! Turns out the electronic devices were nothing more than an advertising stunt to promote the Cartoon Network show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Turner Communications says "Whoops." Furious, Mayor Mumbles shakes his fist and shouts "You will pay! You will pay!" Here's the full story.

So, who are the bigger idiots? The city, for freaking out over a bunch of blinking cartoons, or Turner Communications, who devising an advertising scheme in which electronic devices will be placed in public areas without any official permission. Both look foolish, but I say Turner deserves the blame. Hopefully, this will be a learning tool.

Lesson 1: Viral/guerrilla advertising is f-ing annoying. In general, people don't like the feeling of being tricked. Remember a few years ago when a mystery Santa was seen giving out money all around the state, and it turned out to be a promotion by WAAF and everyone was all disappointed and stuff? I'm also not a big fan of commercialized graffiti, another common tactic. Hopefully, this incident will nip it in the bud. Cause, yeah, viral marketing does have the potential to go very, very wrong.

Lesson 2: Those of you who know me already know that I abhor this whole "culture of fear" phenomenon that is so prevalent in modern American society. Especially when it comes to science, but that's a story for another day. Yes, terrorism does occur, but fear of terrorism, or bird flu, or any other theoretical worst-case-scenario shouldn't dictate how we go about our daily lives, or how we vote. Face it, people, you are far more likely to perish due to heart disease, cancer, or a car accident than in any doomsday disaster. Now, isn't that a cheery thought to start the morning? Yesterday's events showcased the overreactions that such a state of paranoia can cause.


Liz said...

I heart guerilla marketing! Almost every day I get free stuff in grand central station by someone dressed in a funny outfit. Not only is it fun to try the new products (or to stare at it trying to decide if I want to try it), its also nice when they hire good looking male models to hand stuff to you. It makes my morning!

Ryan said...

Help! Viral advertising is runing my life. Have you ever seen Aqua Teen or the Mooninites? If so, it makes this sorta funny.

eileen said...

Liz, don't get me wrong, I'm totally okay with hot guys giving out freebies. (that sounded dirty.)

But essentially, this incidence is essentially vandalism designed to increase the profits of an enormous company.

Ryan, glad to see you've come out from your anonymous pseudonym. I haven't seen the show. I do think the whole thing is pretty funny, though.

Eri said...

Ummmm... recent development on the story. Have you seen the pics of the two that were arrested???

Anonymous said...

I believe the Boston officials are more foolish. It's seems their policy was shoot first ask questions later. Boston was one of 10 cities where the ads were place, including 56 in Philly and 41 in NYC, so why was Boston the only one to freak out? Perhaps a little research, a few phone calls and some common sense could have resolved this without having to cause panic.

I think the city owes an apology to the public for wasting tax dollars on this fiasco.

Tina said...

I love innovative "guerilla advertising" because they are intersting (!) and it's a reminder of how incredibly creative people are. The "smoking kills..." advertisement comes to mind. The scheme is simple and effective, and creates the necessary buzz to gain attention in a world inudated with too much media.

And you said yourself that people shouldn't live in a "culture of fear." Doing something as innocent (and from the looks of the pictures, it was innocent) as putting these light display around the city was more on the innocent side.

My message--LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!! People should b rewarded for their innovation, not chastized.

eileen said...

Lighten up! Get it? Har!