Apparently, you can put a price on this kind of publicity.
Turner Broadcasting and Interference Inc., the ad agency responsible for placing 38 electronic promotions-turned-bomb scares around Boston last Wednesday, have agreed to pony up $2 million to make amends for a Lite-Brite-esque Aqua Teen Hunger Force publicity campaign that effectively shut down the city.
Terms of the payout were decided on Monday morning after Beantown Mayor Thomas Menino and Attorney General Martha Coakley met with Turner representatives to hash out an appropriate compensation. Meninio previously estimated that the 'toon-powered panic cost the city more than $800,000.
The cable giant, which owns the Cartoon Network and its Adult Swim division—the group responsible for the bird-flipping 'toon promotion, which went off without a hitch in nine other cities—was described by Menino as being "extremely cooperative."
"I think Turner learned a lesson: that they will not tolerate this type of advertising any further," he said. "I would just say that the folks who second-guessed us because we did go out and do our work, shame on them."
Of the $2 million settlement, $1 million will be divided among city and state enforcement agencies who turned out in force to subdue the Mooninite threat by removing the offending circuit boards from bridges, subway stations and commuter hubs around the city (where they had been placed about two weeks earlier).
The remaining $1 million has been earmarked by officials for goodwill funding, to "enable our communities to enhance homeland security, or to pursue other important community initiatives," Menino said in a written statement.
In addition to their seven-figure sum, Turner and Interference issued a public apology, stating that, "in today's post-September 11 environment," the city officials were right to respond the way they did.
As for Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, the two hair experts/artists hired by Interference to place the light boards around the city, their fate remains unsettled.
The men have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of "placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic."
While their case was not part of the city's deal, Coakley said negotiations were already in place to try and avoid sending the twentysomethings through a full-blown trial.
Legal experts, and even the presiding judge, have suggested prosecutors would have a difficult time pursuing the most serious charges against the pair because there was no intent to cause a terror scare.
Meanwhile, the Mooninite menace is far from over. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, the movie at the center of the promotion, is due Mar. 23 in multiplexes nationwide—Boston, included.