Explosive Marketing

The partners at a business litigation firm in Los Angeles may have thought their recent direct-mail promotion would be the bomb. But now they’re engaging in damage control.

In a story that just begs for endless puns, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges recently emphasized the idea that business is war by mailing fake grenades to 600 potential clients. The project, well, blew up in the company’s face when the packages caused bomb scares at two locations.

“I guess their ad guy is going to be selling refrigerators in Guam,” joked a member of the bomb squad in San Jose, Calif., when the AP investigated an incident at a company there.

Steve Madison, a senior partner at Quinn Emanuel, sounded good and weary when Shoptalk lobbed questions at him late last week. “It hasn’t been a happy episode for us,” he admits. He says the marketing agency that developed the idea has been canned, but wouldn’t tell us who it was. What is clear is that the firm will look for safer ways to make an impact in future.

Sending grenade-looking items through the mail is illegal, in fact, but reports suggested the U.S. Postal Service isn’t pursuing the matter since it wasn’t malicious. DON FARRALL/PHOTO DISCIAN WALDIE/NEWSCOM