Turner Broadcasting Apologizes for Boston Marketing Ploy Gone Wrong - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/02/07 - Boston, MA

Turner Broadcasting Apologizes for Boston Marketing Ploy Gone Wrong

TBS' CEO apologized in Boston newspapers today for "the confusion and inconvenience" his company's marketing campaign caused. (Photo courtesy ABCNews.com) TBS' CEO apologized in Boston newspapers today for "the confusion and inconvenience" his company's marketing campaign caused. (Photo courtesy ABCNews.com)
Sean Stevens, 28, left, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, react during their arraignment in Charlestown District Court in Boston on Feb. 1, 2007, as they pleaded not guilty to placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ AP Photo ) Sean Stevens, 28, left, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, react during their arraignment in Charlestown District Court in Boston on Feb. 1, 2007, as they pleaded not guilty to placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ AP Photo )

by Jonathan Silverstein, ABC News

One of the two men charged in connection with the advertising campaign that turned into a terror scare was asked to keep quiet as the stunt sent the city of Boston into chaos, according to two fellow artists who provided ABC News with an e-mail from the man supporting their claim.

Two local artists, Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky, were arrested Wednesday night and charged with disorderly conduct and placing a hoax device for allegedly putting about 38 devices containing magnetic lights in the shape of a "mooninite" character from the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim show, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," around the city and surrounding area.

But friends and fellow artists Toshi Hoo and Travis Vautour said it's not Berdovsky and Stevens who should take the fall for this.

According to Hoo and Vautour, the New York-based guerilla marketing firm, Interference Inc., which was running the advertising campaign in Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia, asked Berdovsky to keep his involvement quiet as the event was playing out.

"We received an e-mail in the early afternoon from Peter that asked the community that he's a part of to keep any information we had on the down low and that was instructed to him by whoever his boss was in this advertising campaign gone wrong," Vautour said. "I don't know if it was for security reasons or it was to buy them some time or to buy Peter some time."

In an e-mail obtained by ABC News sent from Berdovsky to Hoo at 1:26 p.m. Wednesday, the artist writes, "My boss at the Cartoon Network's ad agency just called -- she is asking that I pretty please keep everything on the dl [down low; quiet]." The e-mail, supplied by Hoo, contains a large swath of blacked-out text that he claims contained personal information he'd rather not share.

Marketing Firm Posts Apology on Web Site

No one at Interference Inc. answered the phone or responded to requests for comment on the authenticity of the e-mail.

The company's Web site, which had appeared as just a white page all day, now features a message addressing the incident.

"We at Interference, Inc. regret that our efforts on behalf of our client contributed to the disruption in Boston yesterday and certainly apologize to anyone who endured any hardship as a result. Nothing undertaken by our firm was in any way intended to cause anxiety, fear or discomfort to anyone. We are working with Turner Broadcasting and appropriate law enforcement and municipal authorities to provide information as requested and take other appropriate actions," the statement says.

Shirley Powell, a spokesperson for Turner Broadcasting, said she was unaware of the e-mail and that it was "nothing I've heard." Powell said that at this point the company had no comment on the e-mail or allegations Berdovsky was asked to keep quiet.

So far, Stevens and Berdovsky are the only people charged in the advertising campaign that turned into a terror scare, creating chaos across the Boston area. People today are asking who is really to blame.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has blasted Turner Broadcasting, owners of the Cartoon Network, and the advertising agency responsible for the stunt and has pledged to hold them accountable for the estimated $500,000 cost of the scare.

Berdovsky and Stevens may not have helped their case after appearing at a press conference and refusing to answer questions about the event. Instead, they chose to engage reporters on their hairstyles and questioned whether the popularity of the Beatles' haircut made it out of the 1960s or not.

All four, Hoo, Vautour, Berdovsky and Stevens, are part of a collective of artists called GlitchCrew, a group that uses technology as an artistic medium.

"Peter's a poor artist and he does jobs like this for money and Sean...is primarily an artist as well," Hoo said. "This was considered an art project. Peter and Sean are both video artists and community-oriented artists at that."

Hoo and Vautour said they don't know how or why things were allowed to get so wildly out of control, but both fear their friends will be made scapegoats when they feel the people behind the campaign are the ones who are truly responsible.

"The point is that they knew what was going on, they knew the country was on terror alert and they told him to keep quiet and they kept quiet themselves," Hoo said. "They knew that was happening, told him to not say anything and now he's in jail."

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Posted by R. Smith

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