Bad buzz is better than no buzz? Discuss

Interference Inc. is a New York guerilla marketing firm. They are very good at what they do. They deliver buzz to their clients.

Given that they basically own the business sections and front pages of today’s newspapers (see the NYT) from the follow-ups to Wednesday’s “terrorist” shutdowns of Boston because a couple of guys put 30 little battery powered light boxes around the city, under bridges, on overpasses, to promote a Turner late night cartoon about fast food products …..

…One can declare that this is one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns in history.

The fact that one of the guys arrested for putting up the light boxes without permission looks like Rob Zombie, and held a mock press conference where he said the issue was “haircuts from the 1970s” makes this all the weirder. I can imagine Boston talk radio now, with the salt of the earth calling for capital punishment or at least hard labor for the pair of twenty-somethings who brought a city to its knees for one expensive afternoon.

Turner is in bunker mode, pointing the press at Interference. Interference’s website is hosed from the traffic. I would image viewership for Aqua Teen Hunger Force is also through the roof. Turner may be making restitution to the city, which actually blew up one of the offending light boxes to neutralize it, but Turner, the performance artists who did the deed for $300, Intereference are, in the end coming out ahead if one subscribes to the “any publicity is good publicity” school.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Bad buzz is better than no buzz? Discuss”

  1. It’s worse than that…the refences to “Hair” in the press conference were yet another terrorist marketing campaign for Adult Swim and their show “Perfect Hair Forever” – which is clear cut evidence they realize the value of what the did, and will continue to do it until they’ve been slammed hard.

    Remember, $850,000 (which TBS has offered to make it all go away) is a mere fraction of what they’d pay for a super bowl ad, and they’ve arguably gotten more exposure.

    I’ve blogged on this one here:

  2. I guess it actually depends on what’s your “message” and “audience”. Adultswim “sells” irreverence, thus I think this stunt has worked wonders for them, if Citibank, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Dell or any other “serious” company where to try the same thing, we’d all be hanging by our private parts on the town’s square.

    By the way, this is global, the news made it to all prime time news in Argentina.

  3. There are two sides to this.

    First, the campaign
    Second, the reaction

    If Boston was a real city — like New York — and could big dig its collective head out of its…and had merely made some noise, made some arrests, and fined them — basically calling the campaign stupid, it would get press but Boston would look good.

    Instead, Boston cops couldn’t figure out what’s dangerous or not — and yeah, I’ve seen the old IRA tactics in Northern Ireland that used seemingly innocious dummies so the real one wouldn’t get noticed. Let’s blow it up!!

    I think this gets so much press because of how stupidly it was handled by Boston — then by NYC in a show of solidarity with our dumber, northern brethern. If Boston had treated them like kids and not terrorists — made some hay out of resources that could have saved some old lady from a mugger but *sigh* had to do the right thing and take these all down…it would have made TBS look like entards.

    Now, the rest of the world is laughing at us. Chasing kiddie toys on the streets of Clam Chowder while Osama sips green tea and orders some etch-a-sketchs from Amazon for the next big idea.

    If this resonates with the pierced generation (Gen P — you heard it here first!) — it’s because of their innate skepticism. When their elders act like entards, it’s a natural draw to them. Take away the amazingly stupid reaction and the campaign dies a shallow, LED death and Gen P doesn’t care.

  4. Great dissection of the story / issue.

    To cover some different ground, I want to comment on “bad buzz better than no buzz?”. Sometimes it is, if it isn’t ‘clubbing harbor seals’ bad.

    If you allow the definition of ‘buzz’ to include reputational awareness, I have found it works to your favor to be known, even if your name isn’t always synonomous with success. Let me explain.

    Once, I observed a period of several years, where a team ran one bad play after another developing applications. Each iteration was a failure in one form or fashion, yet this same group got given the ball when it was time to develop a new app. Why? Because they were a known entity by management. Management knew these folks had some skills and experience around software application development, and it was easier to deal with a known, and try to mitigate it, than to spend the time looking for unknowns and giving them a shot.

  5. “Each iteration was a failure in one form or fashion, yet this same group got given the ball when it was time to develop a new app. ”

    Sounds like the guy at OTB saying his horse is due.

    We all know how that turns out.

  6. “They came on in the same old way and we defeated them in the same old way.” The Duke of Wellington

    That sounds like “institutionalized failure.”

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