Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Gimmicks sell, and coming up with something original to promote a product is great.
But you have to be clever and careful, something that the creative brains behind the Mission: Impossible:III overlooked.

The marketing department of Paramount came up with the brilliant idea to place approximately 4,500 digital music players in newspaper dispensers.

As soon as the newspapers rack would open, the programmed unit would play the Mission: Impossible theme.
That may sound great, but is not the cleverest thing to do in this post-9/11 era.

A Los Angeles Times reader in Santa Clarita inserted his quarter, opened the lid, and saw a small plastic box with a few wires poking out of it sitting on top of the papers.
Needless to say, he didn’t perceive a clever marketing gimmick but a bomb.
Correctly so, he immediately called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, who dispatched an arson and explosives team to investigate.
Within half an hour, the efficient bomb squat checked the red plastic box that had wires sticking of it and rendered it useless (aka blowing it up).

Later the same day, law enforcement officials received several more calls along the same lines. By that time, the various law enforcement departments had received word of Paramount Pictures about its brilliant marketing campaign.

Needless to say, the Los Angeles Times gave permission for the gimmick.
As they put it, it was Paramount's aim to "turn the everyday news rack experience" into an
"extraordinary mission."
It is not known if the around 2.4M. daily readers of the LA Times share this sentiment.

So what went wrong? Well, the music players weren't supposed to be visible.
That makes me wonder: did anyone check after putting them in?
They obviously forgot one of the golden rules of marketing and PR:
Check, check and double check!

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