Asses on display

Photo from APWhen are companies going to learn to stop hiring “guerilla marketing” firms?

First there was the ridiculously ill-advised Sony PSP blog (Consumerist saved the original here after Sony was forced to take it down), which got the company much, much worse PR than they could’ve ever hoped to gain with the campaign in the first place.

Now, of course, is the hubub over the douchebags responsible for the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” bomb scare. I feel compelled to point out first of all that I used to be a huge fan of Adult Swim, but they lost me sometime between the last episode of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” and the first episode of “Squidbillies.” Somewhere along the line, they got just a little bit too pleased with themselves, and assumed that they could put whatever the hell they wanted on the air, and stoners would watch it. (Which is true, but not a good long-term strategy). So it’s just a damn good thing this promotion was for “ATHF” and not “The Venture Brothers,” or I’d be in an ethical quandary.

The Adult Swim braintrust should realize that they’re already walking on a very thin line between “look how f-in’ edgy we are!” and being genuinely clever. And they should have a tighter lock on that, and realize that an outside company just isn’t going to get it, and they’re likely going to screw it up. Maybe they didn’t understand exactly the magnitude to which they’d screw it up, but surely somebody at Turner saw the idea and had to give it the okay.

Assume that you’re more sincere in your non-violence than I am, and you can look at pictures of the smarmy grinning marketing gurus responsible for the incident, and read their snickering responses to reporters, and not want to just never stop beating them. Still, you have to take a step back and get some perspective. This “guerilla marketing” combines two of the most horrible things to blight mankind: marketing, and performance art. If they could’ve somehow directly involved Fox News commentators, they would’ve scored a trifecta.

Apologists are coming out of the woodwork now, saying that the devices have been in place for weeks, they’re “obviously” not anything dangerous, and it shows how irreverent and edgy the network is and how lame and dumb and out-of-touch Boston’s city officials are. Okay, first: shut up. And then: just how much of a moron do you have to be to plant devices with visible circuit boards and batteries and wires on city overpasses? Acting all surprised that they’d be mistaken for bombs is just plain bullshit.

And if your whole schtick is based on how edgy and counter-culture you are, then you’re just a chickenshit for claiming that they couldn’t possibly be confused for bombs and that that wasn’t the intent. Of course that was the intent, and if you’re going to pull that kind of nonsense, then at least have the balls to stand behind it. I’ve got zero sympathy for these losers, and the details in that CNN story just make me happier and happier: not only could they get fired, but they could be charged with a felony, and one of them could get deported. I just hope if nobody at Cartoon Network’s marketing staff got fired, they’ve at least learned their lesson.