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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Psst, don't tell anyone

The REAL culprit on Tuesday's Mooninite Madness is rapidly coming into view. No it's not the man in dreads and his sidekick. Or even Turner Broadcasting. It appears its a marketer named Sam Ewen and his aptly named company Interference Inc.

The million bucks or so that Turner Broadcasting will pay in restitution is chump change compared to the value of having their name and their Cartoon Network show on the lips of every Bostonian and countless millions who read or watch the news.

And Peter Berdovsy and his sidekick Sean Stevens were vastly underpaid if all they got was $300 each to figuratively and literally give Boston the finger. Or did they get extra for promoting another Cartoon Network program in the performance art that passed for a court appearance?

No the finger, if you will, now appears to be pointing at Ewen, who swore his accomplices to silence as the reaction mounted to the discovery of dozens of "billboards" complete with wires and batteries, hung under highway overpasses and MBTA stations. At least three more hours of "performance art."

I'm sure the debonair Mr. Ewen is having a good laugh at the rubes in Boston today who, with perfect 20-20 hindsight, overreacted to his "gag." Of course, we won't know right away because he hung up on Globe reporters and has refused to acknowledge his role.

The fall-out continues to highlight the generational divide here. Our pair of performers continue to have a great laugh at the public's expense while Turner plays the grown-up and says my bad.

And Ewen gives public relations and marketing yet another black eye by carrying the "joke" too far. His "performance" was not just childish, but irresponsible. And it appears it will be a major feather in his cap:
Interference campaigns have been featured in various media such as 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, Time Magazine and various other outlets. Mr. Ewen is a frequent speaker and writer on the topic of alternative marketing.
What did Turner pay him? From their perspective I'm sure it is money well spent. Just generating classic Tommy know-it-all while knowing nothing bluster -- asking movie operators not to show the movie -- is worth something.

Immaturity and disrespect for authority are not crimes and Berdovsky and Stevens shouldn't do the time. Self-promotion is not a crime and Turner and its parent Time-Warner won't be seeing any jail cells either. Nor will Ewen.

This obviously isn't the first, or last, stunt of its kind. It dwarfs in comparison to Orson Welles' War of the World.

But the lack of ethics displayed in refusing to call off the "gag" is something that needs to be addressed by the grown-ups. Even Welles offered hints (albeit too few) that he was perpetrating a hoax and tried to calm things after they got out of hand.

Sam Ewen on the other hand, is in a corner somewhere, smirking -- and cashing a big check from Turner.

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Blogger Ryan Adams said...

I'll agree that Sam Ewin made a mistake, that's for sure. However, I'd be wary of calling him a villian. There were no "villians" in this scenario.

One party was just trying to market a product. Another paid that independent party to do so. The next was just trying to keep the city safe, but in a hysterical, "post 9/11" facsist mindset. None of them were villians, all of them were a little wrong. The Boston Police, though, were the one's who decided to put Boston on a standstill because of Light-Bright.

February 02, 2007 9:33 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Yes, but... when it become obvious that things were escalating out of control and Ewen didn't want to fess up, he became a very irresponsible marketer. And if we ever get the full story, it's very possible that Boston Police -- faced with what appeared to be two legitimate fake "bombs"and the ubiquitous chatter -- acted properly.

Of course we won't know that while Tommy rages against Turner, the Hair Squad while urging movie boycotts. In other words, we will probably never know.

February 02, 2007 7:59 PM  

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