Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Turner - Possible Negative implications for WOM


As most of you may know, the bomb scares that happened in 9 locations around Boston today were attributed to an advertising campaign for Turner Broadcasting (as reported by Channel 5 news). In a poor attempt to form buzz around an Adult swim cartoon program Aqua Team Hunger Force, Turner communications strategically placed devices in various T stops around the Boston area. Because there was no introduction to the device, or any explicit description of the device, it was seen as suspicious and caused a media frenzy.

This sequence of events shows the delicate nature of advertising a product without providing any additional information. A mysterious device in a subway station, especially given the terrorist plots that took place in London, is an obvious risk to public safety. Companies should therefore examine their marketing initiatives and explore the potential risks before launching a campaign on unsuspecting consumers. As a result of the negative word of mouth around this company and it's failed product placement attempt, the concept of word of mouth marketing could be under scrutiny. Had Turner communications disclosed that they were placing devices in public places, or at least notified MBTA security, they could have avoided this debacle all together. This unfortunate marketing campaign is not going to fair well in the eyes of the already cynical consumer and further underscores the value of disclosure for WOM campaigns.

Rough times for Turner Broadcasting.

5 comments:

Walter Carl said...

Very timely post Andrea. I also wrote one and linked to yours.

Taslim said...

Good post Andrea, I was coming to write something similar. I also read Dr. Carl's post. I too was thinking about Turner's statement on the length of time these devices have been in the city with yesterday being the first day someone noticed and called the police.

While I agree there is much NWOM for Turner in the air, think about all the buzz this has generated. Just yesterday I had at least 5 WOM episodes with friends discussing Turner Broadcasting and some of the shows they air.

As soon as I read on Boston.com that the devices were planted by Turner, I visited Turner's website to see if they had issued a statment. They hadn't yet, but while I was there I looked at the TBS section, started to think about some of my favorite television shows, and then visited the website for "My Boys" a show that runs on TBS.

Not all buzz is harmful, even if it is negative. Of course, the legal problems they are facing are another story entirely!

Walter Carl said...

Here's an interesting post by John Cass where he also discusses the disclosure issue and ethics of the Aqua Teen campaign.

John Cass said...

great posting andrea, good analysis of the problems facing WOM marketing people in running such campaigns.

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