Advertisers Versus The Police

From May It Please the Court:

Law Student Talk - Mission Impossible 3Earlier in the week, a promotional stunt in Boston was misinterpreted and went wrong, snarling traffic and commutes over the downtown area. Last year, Paramount Pictures teamed up with the Los Angeles Times to promote the new movie, Mission: Impossible III. Paramount, apparently with the LA Times' permission, hooked up a device in the news racks to play the them to the new movie each time a patron opened the door to get a newspaper.

The music was triggered by a device that resembled a six-inch long red tube with wires running to the paper box. After one of the devices was reported to the police as a possible explosive device, the LA bomb squad blew up the newspaper dispenser.

Advertisers continue to come up with creative ways to catch our attention (some better than others, many not that good), but it seems to MIPTC that these two apparent misunderstandings could have been easily prevented, by both the police and the advertisers.

Had the advertisers thought to notify the police ahead of time, reports of possible bombs attached to newspaper boxes could have been summarily dismissed, and the promotion gone on to successfully caught our attention. Had the police thought to call the LA Time and ask if they knew anything about the device, the Times could have explained it instead of having the bomb squad blow up one of its newspaper dispensers.

In Boston it might not have been so easy for the police to call the Cartoon Network, which apparently placed around the City computers displaying the company's new TV show.

In any event, both the police and advertisers need to remember the hypersensitive world we live in now, and talk with one another. Whether prosecutors should file criminal charges against these advertisers will likely depend on whether the advertisers actually sought the ultimate attention they got by designing something that looked like a bomb or could have been mistaken for a bomb.

It's a crazy world out there. Let's be careful and talk with one another more frequently.

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