For those of you who didn?t hear the news over the last couple of weeks, Cartoon Network created a marketing campaign in Boston placing select blue-LED light characters from their Adult Swim block around the city like the one above.? When the stunt caught national attention, the network saw a viewer ship spike of around 20%, a huge jump. Network online traffic saw even larger rises of more than 70%.
Everyone is happy, right?
Of course not.? Due to the look and placement of the pieces, local and national authorities quickly flagged the marketing stunt as a potential national security issue.? Nine of the installations caused a shutdown of I-93, two bridges, and boat traffic on the Charles River.? A bomb squad seized one of the devices and attempted to detonate the package.
Tangible fallout for Cartoon network has consisted of GM Jim Samples tendering his resignation, as well as a $2M payment by Time Warner?s Cartoon Network to the city of Boston to cover costs from the debacle.??? The third-party marketing team as well as Cartoon Network staff could face two to five years of imprisonment, as well.? Intangible negatives include image denigration from negative media coverage as well as negative association for parent?s whose children watch Cartoon Network daytime programming.
This shows us that we always have to think about unintended consequences of our actions.? There are three ways we can see unintended consequences:
- Positive unexpected benefit ? example: working all night on a presentation because you have an important meeting gains you not only the account, but then your boss treats you to a free pair of Knicks tickets.
- Potential source of new problems ? example: your working with an office friend on a project doesn?t allow you to be as frank as you need to be to give the necessary feedback.
- Negative unexpected effects ? example: as in the case of Cartoon Network, the marketing campaign caused negative financial and legal impact.
When making any important decisions one must always think about the anticipated upshot, as well as any possible consequences of the action.
The Register – Unintended Consequences
Wikipedia – Adult Swim