Sam Ewen: Tough Nut to Crack
He's a poet, he's a picker, he's a prophet, he's a pusher
He's a pilgrim and a preacher and a problem when he's stoned
He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction
Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.
Following reports questioning the timeline of Interference Inc.'s response to the events in Boston on Wednesday, CEO Sam Ewen broke his long silence yesterday with a statement: "At no time, and in no way, did we ever seek to hide our involvement in this situation or ask or direct others to do so." While these words do not preclude the possibility that the "guerrilla marketing" firm chose to let Wednesday's events play themselves out before claiming responsibility, thereby guaranteeing prolonged media coverage and maximizing brand awareness (and since the name of Mr. Ewen's company appears in the opening titles of the promotional videos that Interference had previously disseminated online they couldn't have hidden their involvement even if they wanted to as it was a feature of the campaign), the statement also maintains "We first received word of the situation when our contracted employee, Peter Berdovsky, called our office to explain that the marketing campaign had become a story in the local news. We immediately informed Turner Broadcasting System of this. We then immediately contacted the authorities in every market the campaign was active in - ten in all - to inform them of the campaign and give them information on the location of every sign in their respective city." Those who have been following this story closely understand that what constituted "immediately" at the offices of Interference on January 31st is an open question since an Associated Press report filed that day said "A woman who answered the phone at the New York-based firm's offices on Wednesday afternoon said the firm's CEO was out of town and would not be able to comment until Thursday." Friends of Peter Berdovsky maintain that after the story broke Interference told him to keep things "on the d.l." Did Interference figure that once the harmlessness of the "devices" was discovered, city officials would shrug it off, everyone would have a good laugh and Aqua Teen Hunger Force would have the kind of publicity money can't buy? Are Mr. Berdovsky's friends just making stuff up? Time will tell.
In his statement (which references 9/11 in its second sentence), Mr. Ewen writes "I would like to once again, personally and on behalf of my company, apologize to the people of Boston and the authorities for this incredibly unfortunate incident." Meanwhile, Mr. Ewen (who shut down Interference's website for two days after the incident) added a video on Thursday to the "Favorites" section of his YouTube page that makes fun of Boston city officials for overreacting. (Jackpot321 is Mr. Ewen's standard username. A google cache of a deleted page where he unfortunately refers to "bomb[ing] LA" with the campaign is here.) One assumes he did not add this video on the advice of counsel (or of the public relations firm he has hired to deflect further inquiries). The video, by the sketch comedy group Zebro, is a satirical recap of the events of January 31st that concludes with a member of the troupe saying "through research we've been able to ascertain the identities of the culprits." Images of newscasters and city and government officials then follow. Although the content of Ewen's official statement and that of his most recent YouTube "Favorites" selection appear diametrically opposed, media experts say that self-contradictory psyches are an earmark of advertising and marketing professionals, many of whom are frustrated artists torn between their dual desires to rebel and "sell out." Does Mr. Ewen, whose marketing firm co-opted the methods of tech-savvy street artists for the ATHF campaign and then remained silent while two of the artists the company had employed as contract labor were arrested on felony charges, have issues? I am just a speculating blogger.