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Marketing

Turner to Pay Boston $1M

2/02/2007 7:34 AM Eastern

Turner Broadcasting System will pay Boston authorities $1 million to compensate the city and law-enforcement agencies for costs of responding to bomb scares sparked by a guerilla-marketing campaign for Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force program, The Boston Globe reported Friday.

“We have no intention of shirking the responsibility onto any other company,” Turner senior vice president of corporate communications Shirley Powell told the paper. “We are taking full responsibility for this.”

On Thursday, Two Boston-area residents pleaded not guilty to felony charges that were filed for their part in placing electronic signs that sparked bomb scares across the Boston metropolitan area Wednesday.

Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky, both 28, pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and placing a hoax device. The men -- who were hired by New York-based guerilla-marketing firm Interference, which had been contracted by Turner to promote Aqua Teen Hunger Force -- were released after each paying $2,500 cash bond.

Powell said Thursday that the company had retained outside legal counsel and public-relations firms to guide it through the incident.

She declined to name which Turner or Cartoon executives were involved in planning the marketing promotion, other than noting that it involved officials from the “Adult Swim marketing department.”

Adult Swim is a late-night programming block on Cartoon, which includes Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a cartoon starring animated fast-food characters Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock.

Powell said the goal of the campaign was to reach young males. She added that Adult Swim’s marketing department selected which cities to involve in the campaign, in addition to specific neighborhoods. Turner contracted Interference to place the magnetic-light signs depicting a moon-dwelling “Mooninite” for the campaign, 38 of which were collected by law-enforcement officers in Boston Thursday.

“It is outrageous, in a post-9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Wednesday. “I am prepared to take any and all legal action against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates for any and all expenses incurred during the response to today's incidents.”

September