GUERRILLA MARKETING BOMBS IN BOSTON
In full-page advertisements appearing in Boston newspapers today (Friday), Turner Broadcasting Co. apologized for a marketing stunt gone so wrong that the city was plunged into paralysis. The "guerrilla marketing" stunt involved placing battery-driven light boxes that displayed a character from Turner's Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force throughout Boston and other cities. The boxes created a security scare that led to the shutting down of major roads and subway systems. The Boston Globe reported today that Turner had agreed to reimburse the city for the costs of the security scramble, estimated to be more than $500,000. Two employees of Interference Inc., the New York marketing agency hired by Turner to implement the campaign, were arraigned on criminal charges Thursday. Appearing before reporters the two dodged questions, saying they wished to address the issue of long hair in the 1970s. (ABC News later reported that one of the men, Peter Berdovsky, had sent an email message to a colleague before his arrest saying that he had received a message from his boss at the ad agency "asking that I pretty please keep everything on the dl [down low]," i.e. quiet. In an interview with today's Wall Street Journal, Kelly O'Keefe, director of executive education at the Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter, said, "This has to rank as the most significant blunder in the world of guerrilla advertising. ... This is an irrational act. It is really guerrilla marketing gone awry and it is inexcusable."
COMCAST PROFITS SOAR -- THANKS TO BROADBAND
Comcast chief Brian Roberts boasted Thursday that his Philadelphia-based company, the largest cable provider in the U.S., experienced "simply our best year ever" in 2006 as net income tripled to $390 million on revenue of $7.03 billion. The company attributed the rise to its ability to offer broadband Internet and phone services in addition to cable TV to customers. Comcast reported a 19-percent increase in Internet subscribers producing revenue of $5.5 billion.
JENNIFER HUDSON DISSES IDOL
In a rambling interview with Essence magazine, Dreamgirls co-star Jennifer Hudson has assailed the producers of American Idol, the show that brought her to prominence. She said, "On American Idol, you go through this mental thing; you've got to get yourself back together. You've been abused, misled and brainwashed to believe whatever they want you to think. You become a character -- I became the girl in the turkey wrapping. I just knew I had to sing my way out of it. I don't believe in looking back, and I didn't look back." The "turkey wrapping" remark was an apparent reference to a costume she was made to wear on one episode of the show. Although many writers had predicted that Hudson would win the competition, she was beaten by Fantasia Barrino.
NY TIMES IRAQ VIDEO IGNITES UPROAR
Military officials in Baghdad have suspended the credentials of a New York Times reporter and photographer after video and a photograph of a dying American soldier were posted on the newspaper's website. The video, which accompanied an article about a deadly encounter between insurgents and an American patrol canvassing an apartment in Baghdad, showed soldiers placing the mortally wounded Army Staff Sergeant Hector Leija on a stretcher and carrying him out of of the apartment. He died later. Military officials maintained that the video violated Army rules prohibiting the showing of wounded soldiers without official consent. The "blogosphere" was inundated with outraged comments. One woman wrote: "Is there any depth these bottom-feeding America haters will not stoop to advance their defeatest (sic) agenda?" The Times said that it planned to send a letter to Sgt. Leija's family expressing regret for any distress the video may have caused. However, it added that the article and the accompanying video represented "a portrait of Sgt. Leija's courage under fire and showed how much his men respected and cared for him."
PBS OFFICIALS PAY HEED TO CRITICS
Responding to angry protests by critics over PBS's decision to debut Ken Burns's The War, a 14-hour documentary series about World War II, during the same week that the major networks are scheduled to unveil most of their fall shows, the public television broadcaster has moved the start date from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23. In a letter addressed to critics who had attended this year's winter press tour in Pasadena, PBS Chief Content Officer John Boland wrote, "In setting the official broadcast schedule for The War we took a number of factors into consideration, including your important concerns." In her column today (Friday), Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes wrote: "The critics, who have grown used to being ignored by all networks and most viewers ... were stunned."
MENOTTI, COMPOSER OF FIRST OPERA FOR TV, DEAD AT 95
Gian Carlo Menotti, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who was commissioned by NBC in 1951 to write the first opera for television, died Thursday in Monaco at the age of 95. The opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, became a Christmas classic that aired on the network annually until 1966. A new production, which aired in 1978, was later released on home video. (An even more recent production, broadcast in the U.K. in 2002, has never been seen in the U.S.) Menotti won Pulitzers for The Consul (1950) and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954). He was also the founder of the Spoleto Arts Festival.