Aqua team hunger force- Boston.

  Guerrilla marketing cautionary tales illustrate just how thin the line between creativity and criminality can be for every guerrilla marketing campaign.

There is no better example than the 2007 campaign to promote Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters-a movie about an anthropomorphic crime-fighting happy meal that never actually fights crime.

    It all began when some Beantowners became alarmed at the sight of a Lite-Brite stuck to an underpass. The sign featured a Moonite, a character from Aqua Teen Hunger Force on the Cartoon Network, “flipping the bird” at oncoming traffic.

Despite being instantly recognizable to anyone who had seen the show, the presence of a battery-powered circuit board rigged to the support system of a bridge was perceived as menacing by some Boston residents, and the police were called.

   Fearing a terrorist attack, Boston officials shut down major roads and waterways to investigate the installations, and bomb squads were dispatched to detonate at least one of the devices.

Early on in the saga, befuddled Gen-Xers tried to explain what the LED boards meant, but Interence, Inc., the company that designed and distributed the devices, made the mistake of not speaking up.

Two freelance video artists, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, were later arrested for placing “hoax devices” as a result of their hesitation. Turner Broadcasting, which owns Cartoon Network, eventually admitted that the devices were planted in ten cities as part of a guerrilla campaign.

    For the investigation, Turner paid $1 million to federal, state, and local agencies in Massachusetts, as well as a further $1 million for goodwill. While the charges against the two artists were dropped, the general manager of Cartoon Network resigned following the incident.

   Although the TV show on which the film is based received a 20 percent ratings boost, it’s still unclear whether the incident impacted the film’s box office sales.

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