In case you missed it, the city of Boston was in a frenzy last week over a bomb scare. People reported electronic devices spotted throughout the area, including on overpasses and bridges. The city thought that these were bombs that were planted as part of a terrorist plot. It turns out, however, that is an advertising campaign for the cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force which airs on the Cartoon Network. I’ve never watched the show, but I know it has a pretty devoted audience and is, in general, irreverent.
The AP is reporting today that Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of Cartoon Network, and the marketing agency that came up with the idea have agreed to pay $2 million to the city of Boston and Homeland Security. In my estimation, they are getting their money’s worth. Companies pay more than $2 million to get thirty seconds of airtime on the Super Bowl. Many of these commercials are quickly forgotten, but most of the time I don’t think it’s worth the money they spend. Cartoon Network, however, has had people talking about this campaign, and I know that they will getter higher ratings for the show as a result.
I’m not suggesting that creating a bomb scare is a good advertising technique. If that was the intention from the beginning, than I cannot support it. However, I don’t believe that the marketing agency, nor Cartoon Network had any malicious intent. They were just looking for a creative way to get attention for their show, and they found it. I think the city of Boston over-reacted. There were about nine other cities where they had the same devices located throughout the city, but none of these cities had any sort of bomb scare. You can see from the pictures below that they were crude looking devices, but not really scary looking.
My main point is that it is really difficult to find your voice in the media today. With cable and satellite providers offering 400+ channels, being able to stand out and get attention can be really difficult. Cartoon Network has succeeded in a HUGE way with this campaign. I don’t think they will mind shelling out the cash.
My final question is, how can churches learn from this? What are some inexpensive ways we can creatively get attention in our communities . . . hopefully without creating a bomb scare?