Aqua Teen Hunger Force is The Bomb

When the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie was announced last month, some (me) wondered how they would turn a 11-minute cartoon into a feature length film. Most, if they noticed at all, wondered what the hell a Meatwad was. But when the bomb squad was called this week to detonate a Lite-Brite version of one of the characters, the show hit the big time.

On Wednesday a number of blinking, electronic signs were discovered in Boston on bridges and other locations leading to the closing of a highway and the dispatching of the afore-mentioned bomb squad. Turns out the potential bombs were just battery-powered led lights attached to circuit board versions of the Aqua Teen characters Ignignokt and Err giving passerbys the finger.

Two men were arrested and the Cartoon Network owned up to the guerrilla marketing campaign. "We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger," read a company statement, which added they understood "the gravity of the situation" and "deeply regret the hardships experienced as a result of the incident."

Do they really? Similar devices had been up for a couple of weeks in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia before a paranoid Bostonian said the word “bomb,” blowing up a small awareness campaign into an international story. Thousands of stories and newscasts followed, all talking about a previously obscure cartoon about a group of life-sized fast-food mascots, Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad and their upcoming movie. Marketing failure? This is pop culture gold!

Below, the guerrilla marketers in action:


  1. Honestly, I can't make up my mind on this. On the one hand, I can't help but think that the authorities may be overreacting. The devices obviously don't look like bombs, at least not to me. On the other hand, it seems to me that it should have occurred to the folks at the Cartoon Network that someone, somewhere would in a fit of paranoia mistake the devices for bombs. Sadly, the real terrorists have succeeded at one thing. They have frightened many Americans into suspecting anything that is even a little bit out of the ordinary, even though it may be obvious to most people that it is not a threat.

  2. I keep thinking that if Turner if forced to pay for this overreaction, it is still probably the best 3/4 of a million dollars they ever could have spent in terms of marketing.

  3. That's hysterical! It's taken a movie I had zero interest in and put it on my map! Not that high but still on the radar.

  4. One would have thought that an Atari-like character giving the physical version of the f-bomb would have tipped them off that it wasn't a bomb bomb. But you're right Mercurie, the paranoia has won.

    The other winner is marketing. I heard people talking at work about the Aqua Teens, people who don't watch cartoons, let alone the Adult Swim lineup. When the more mainstream campaign begins, people will now know who they are.