Nothing actually exploded, but the fallout from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie marketing fiasco has reached far and wide.
Cartoon Network general manager Jim Samples resigned Friday in light of the negative publicity caused by the ill-fated ad campaign that was supposed to draw attention to the upcoming feature film based on the late-night Adult Swim offering but instead caused a major freak-out in Boston last week.
In a memo to his Turner Broadcasting colleagues, Samples wrote that his part in the gimmick-gone-wrong left him "compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch."
Turner issued a public apology Monday and agreed to pay $2 million to compensate Beantown for the frenzy that ensued when residents mistook the 38 Lite Brite-lookin' devices that had been placed around the city for bombs.
The promotion was put into effect with the help of New York-based ad agency Interference Inc.
On Jan. 31, police were dispatched to investigate, bridges and highways were closed and drivers were ensnarled in a massive traffic jam. All in all, the hullabaloo cost the city at least $800,000, according to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
The two Boston artists who set up the blinking ads featuring Mooninite leader Ignignokt and his sidekick Err giving passersby the finger have pleaded not guilty to charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, are due back in court Mar. 7.
Samples said that he hopes that his stepping down to face "new professional challenges" will help the network put the incident behind it so that Cartoon Netork can "get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages."
Aqua Teen Hunger Force has developed quite the cult following, helping to boost the popularity of the Adult Swim lineup, which Sample helped build during his nearly five and a half years running Cartoon Network and has been credited for helping to resurrect Family Guy and Futurama from the dead.
"Jim's decision to leave his post is a reflection of his regard for the business he helped build and the people he trusts to move it forward," Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus wrote in an internal memo.
Ads promoting the fries-beef patty-and-beverage trio that make up Aqua Teen Hunger Force were also set up in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and five other major U.S. cities, but Boston was the only locale to report any concerns. The signs had been up for a couple of weeks before the 911 calls started rolling in.
Meanwhile, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, starring Frylock, Meatwad and Master Shake, is due out Apr. 13.