NEW YORK In the wake of a guerilla marketing campaign that resulted in a Boston terrorism scare and a $2 million fine, Cartoon Network chief Jim Samples on Friday tendered his resignation, effective immediately.
In a note to Turner colleagues, the Cartoon Network evp, general manager said that his role in last week's marketing blitz for Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie left him "compelled to step down ... in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch."
A 13-year Turner vet, Samples said that he looked forward to whatever "new professional challenges [lie] ahead."
Designed to generate buzz for the upcoming Aqua Teen theatrical, the stunt raised hackles in Boston after police were deluged with reports that suspect devices had been discovered throughout the metropolitan area. In one case, Boston police detonated one of the Aqua Teen signs, a simple circuit board fixed with an array of LED bulbs.
The lit signs depicted an Aqua Teen character in the act of flipping the bird.
Although the signs were posted in nine other U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, Boston was the only area to experience such an extreme reaction.
Earlier in the week, Turner agreed to pay the fine as compensation, in accordance with an order by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.
Samples said that he hopes that his decision to step down would allow him and his former employer "to put this chapter behind us." He also said that he would remain a steadfast supporter of the network. "I will always cherish the experience of having worked with you," he said. "I also look forward to seeing your best and most personally fulfilling work yet. ... Each of you deserves nothing less."
The network has not named a replacement for Samples, whose absence will be particularly glaring during Cartoon's Feb. 14 upfront presentation in New York. In the interim, the network's executive team will report to Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus.
"Jim's decision to leave his post is a reflection of his regard for the business he helped build and the people he trusts to move it forward," said Lazarus in an internal memo.