So Paramount, Allied Advertising and the Los Angeles Times have settled that really stupid Mission Impossible III promotional campaign that went so wrong, resulting in panic and the forced evacuation of personnel and patients in hospital gowns, in wheelchairs and on gurneys at the Veterans Affairs medical complex in Westwood. Oh, there was more: twice, bomb squads were called and blew up newsracks because the promo placed inside — wired-up red plastic digital music devices designed to play the MI3 theme song — looked like an explosive device. But this settlement only deals with the VA incident: the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles said the paper, the studio and the ad company agreed to pay the hospital $75,000 but did not admit wrongdoing.
The incident occurred in April 2006 when the idiotic promos were placed in 4,500 coin-operated news racks in and around Los Angeles to advertise the Tom Cruise pic. The things were supposed to play when the door was opened. But in some cases, they were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers. The VA hospital sustained $92,855.77 in damages because of the evacuation, so I don’t understand why the U.S. Attorney let the three off so cheaply. That other guerrilla marketing campaign gone bad surrounding the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim pic caused much of Boston to be shut down and Time-Warner to pay a $2 million fine for Massachusetts law enforcement costs. Other cities are going to bill for the cost of taking down the electronic signs. So the next time you people get a “cool” film promo idea, just cool it.