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Ads Gone Wild 3: Boston-area bank overreacts to fax promotion May 31, 2007

Posted by Brian in advertising, Boston, guerrilla marketing.
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Sigh…what is up with the people in the Boston area and promotional materials?

After the Aqua Teen Hunger Force/Lite-Brite debacle and the Cadbury promotion that went awry earlier this year, it seems the Boston area has hit the trifecta for ad-related problems in 2007. Here is the latest (courtesy of The Boston Globe)…

Faulty fax, mistaken as threat, prompts evacuation of stores
Package heightens fears

By John C. Drake, Globe Staff | May 31, 2007

ASHLAND — In a scene reminiscent of the Cartoon Network bomb scare that paralyzed the Boston area in January, police shut down a strip mall yesterday in this small western suburb after employees at a Bank of America branch mistook a botched fax for a bomb threat.

Frustrated shop owners said the branch overreacted to the strange fax, which turned out to be an in-house marketing document sent by the bank’s corporate office. “The women at the bank should have handled it a little better,” said Nick Markos, owner of Townhouse Pizza and Roast Beef, who estimated that he had lost $1,000 to $1,200 because of the lunch-hour evacuation. “She blew it all out of proportion, and all of us business owners had to pay for it.”

A day-care center with about 30 children and more than a dozen small businesses in Ledgemere Plaza on Eliot Street were evacuated for about three hours after bank branch managers received a fax with images of a crude timer and a hand lighting a bomb, Ashland police Chief Scott Rohmer said.

Bank employees told police a suspicious package had arrived around the same time, elevating their fears. Bank security personnel later determined that a fax machine at the corporate office left off the text alerting employees to Small Business Commitment Week in June, including the words, “The Countdown Begins,” above the bomb.

“It was not a communication that was ever meant to be distributed to customers or anyone externally, and the fax machine malfunctioned, so when it came out of the fax machine, it looked suspicious,” Bank of America spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said.

Full story

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Was there an overreaction like there was in the response to the ATHF guerrilla marketing campaign? It seems likely.

More importantly, though, is how dumb are Bank of America’s promotional people for sending a fax with the image of somebody lighting a bomb fuse…TO ITS OWN BANK BRANCHES???!!!

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