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Published: Friday, 2/9/2007

Head of Cartoon Network quits after marketing stunt

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA The head of the Cartoon Network resigned today following a marketing stunt that caused a terrorism scare that shut down bridges and roadways in Boston and led police to call in the bomb squad.

The announcement of Jim Samples' resignation was made in an internal memo sent to Cartoon Network staff members. Samples said he regretted what had happened.

It s my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages, Samples said.

He said he felt compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch.

Blinking electronic devices had been planted around 10 cities in a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but when Boston authorities got a series of 911 calls about the suspicious devices on Jan. 31, they feared the then-dark circuit boards with wires in them could be explosives.

A few hours later, Cartoon Network s corporate parent acknowledged the boards were harmless and part of a marketing move.

The Cartoon Network is a division of Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting, whose parent is media giant Time Warner Inc. On Monday, Turner Broadcasting and an advertising agency involved agreed to pay $2 million in compensation for the emergency response the devices had spurred in Boston.

The agreement between Turner, Interference Inc. and several state and local agencies resolves any potential civil or criminal claims against the two companies.

A replacement for Samples, who had been with the company for 13 years, was not immediately announced.

All the publicity over the marketing stunt didn t translate into much of a marketing boost for the show the network was trying to promote. The cartoon averaged 386,000 viewers last week among its targeted demographic of 18-to-24-year-olds, according to Nielsen Media Research. The previous week, the show averaged a virtually identical 380,000 among young viewers.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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