Turner Apologizes for Adult Swim Promotion

Jan 31, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent apologized to the people of Boston, where a promotional stunt for the company’s Adult Swim network that involved suspicious packages with blinking lights forced law enforcement to close roads and train lines.

The packages contained magnetic lights in the shape of a cartoon character and were placed near billboards next to roads and bridges in several cities. At least one of the packages was detonated by a police bomb squad, according to news reports from Boston Wednesday afternoon.

Turner officials said they were still trying to gather information and said the promotion, for the show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” was conducted by a third-party marketing company.

Massachusetts politicians criticized Turner for wasting public resources and asked for the business to reimburse the government for the costs incurred in investigating what appeared to be a threat.

“It is outrageous, in a post-9/11 world, that a company would use this sort of marketing scheme,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement, adding that the city would take any legal action available against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates to make sure the municipality is repaid.

Mr. Kent said the network tried to cooperate with law enforcement as soon as executives realized the promotion was going awry.

“We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger,” Mr. Kent said in a statement Wednesday evening. “We appreciate the gravity of this situation and, like any responsible company would, are putting all necessary resources toward understanding the facts surrounding it as quickly as possible.”

Turner said it told law enforcement officials where the promotional items were located in the 10 cities in which they were placed, and told the third-party marketing firm who posted them to take them down immediately.

Earlier, Turner said that the packages were magnetic lights that posed no danger. They were placed two to three weeks ago in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, the company said.

(Editor: Romanelli)

Click here to read TelevisionWeek columnist Marianne Paskowski’s blog about the controversy.