Thursday, February 01, 2007

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it

Today is the 2nd day of outrage at Turner Broadcasting. They are the people who hired a PR firm to promote a cartoon on Adult Swim called Teenage Hunger Force - or something similar. The PR firm got the bright idea of putting battery operated signs on newspaper vending machines - the sign looks like a smiley face with a hand with an extended middle finger. (Extended middle finger. What taste. What class. Yes...I want to watch this cartoon!)

Anyway, people in Boston panicked, thinking they were bombs. Police were called. Packages were detonated. Two people placing the things were arrested.

And I'm thinking to stupid is this? To do this type of thing in a post 9-11 world is just asking for trouble. I mean, it's one thing to be a bus driver on a Greyhound making a joke that he's going to take his passengers to the Taliban (he'd had to take a detour and the passengers wanted to know what was going on and asked in a rude manner - last joke was on him of course as the cops came and arrested him, thanks to cell phones.)

But to place things with batteries, wires and flashing lights on newspaper vending machines? And expect people not to panic?

But...and here's the thing...this is not the first time this has happened. It was last year that a similar advertising campaign was conducted... in New York, I think it was. On that occasion, the objects were actually inside the vending machines. I think they were advertising 24 or some similar television show. And there was a panic, and the devices were removed.

So why didn't the PR firm this time, or the bright bulb at Turner who signed off on their idea, know about that???

It's a case not only of learning from past events, but also just plain old common sense.

Having said that, I don't think the guys who were placing the devices should have been arrested. They were doing an *advertising* job, not something illegal. If anyone should go to jail, it should be the people who thought up the idea in the first place. (But of course, they're the "suits" - ie people with money, so nothing will happen to them. Meantime the worker bees, who have no money, will be fined and sent to jail, most likely. But maybe they can sue afterwards and give some lawyers employment for a few years.)

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