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The 10 best marketing stunts ever!

November 26, 2008

1. The Boston Bomb Scare

In a January 2007 attempt to create a guerilla marketing promotion for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Turner Broadcasting System's Cartoon Network commissioned backpack-sized devices with wires on the back and lights on the front capable of displaying a moving picture image.

These were then placed around various spots in Boston. Unfortunately, many people took them for bombs. Boston officials have said that as many as 38 of the devices were planted in key spots around the city, but it only took the discovery of a few--in a train station, hospitals and on bridges--to cause a War of the Worlds-sized panic, sending the Boston Police's bomb squad out on full alert.

Boat traffic was blocked from Boston Harbor, and the Pentagon had the US Northern Command in Colorado Springs monitoring the threat. The devices were also planted in nine other major US cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

As soon as mayhem erupted, Turner gave the locations of all the devices to authorities, and instructed the third party marketing company it had contracted for the stunt to end it immediately.

CNN quoted Boston-based Congressman Ed Markey as saying, "It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt." He added, "Whoever thought this up needs to find another job." Indeed, Jim Samples, General Manager of Cartoon Network, resigned in the wake of the promotion.

Image: A supporter of the artists Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky holds a sign outside Charlestown District Court in Charlestown, Massachusetts on February 1, 2007. Stevens and Berdovksy were arrested after a marketing campaign by Turner Broadcasting to advertise a cartoon television show, 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force' went awry and shut down parts of Boston as a bomb scare. | Photograph: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

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