Newspaper Promotion Turns Into a Mission Impossible

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Newspapers are battling on a number of fronts to increase ad pages and circulation, and are diligently working to come up with innovative ways to intrigue readers. But a recent promotion for Paramount's "Mission Impossible III" by the Los Angeles Times turned out to be a bit too intriguing.
The 'Los Angeles Times' and Paramount concocted a movie promotional stunt that went awry when bomb-like wired devices were placed in its news boxes that were to play the 'Mission Impossible III' theme song.
The 'Los Angeles Times' and Paramount concocted a movie promotional stunt that went awry when bomb-like wired devices were placed in its news boxes that were to play the 'Mission Impossible III' theme song.

It seems certain newspaper buyers grew nervous when they noticed a red plastic box attached to the inside of a news box in Santa Clarita, Calif., as reported by the L.A. Times' own Bob Pool over the weekend.

The red box, which had wires running to the news rack's door, was supposed to play the theme song for the new Tom Cruise vehicle set to open May 5. Devices were wired into 4,500 news boxes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Mr. Pool writes that Paramount Pictures' wanted to turn the "everyday news-rack experience" into an "extraordinary mission." Well that they did.

Consumers in Santa Clarita who spotted the wires and red boxes were quick to call the police. Soon, a bomb squad from the Los Angeles County's sheriff's department showed up. Then they blew up the news rack. As L.A. Times Senior VP-Operations Mark Kurtich summed it up, "I think Paramount is pretty happy about it."

Watercooler can picture it now. On a sunny L.A. day, a placid street corner is transformed as police converge and a SWAT team in full gear surrounds the news rack. Then the explosion occurs and bits of newspaper float down while the "Mission Impossible" theme tinkles along and then dies out. What more could Paramount marketing execs ask for? Too bad they didn't get the camera crew there. If only they could have arranged for a car chase away from the scene, they would have gotten a full day's worth of coverage.

As it was, other reports of bombs phoned in later in the day to West Los Angeles police did not result in any more news racks being exploded. Deputies were already aware that the box was musical.
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