On the heels of a major marketing blunder at his network, Cartoon Network chief Jim Samples has resigned.
Samples, Cartoon's Executive VP/GM has been at Cartoon parent company Turner for 13 years. He said due to last week's failed Adult Swim marketing campaign, which caused much of the city of Boston to shut down, he felt "compelled" to step down, effective immediately.
"I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign," Samples wrote in an internal memo to colleagues.
The campaign, featuring light boards with Cartoon Net characters on them, resulted in having to issue several apologies and being ordered to pay a $2 million fine by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. The City of Chicago also plans to bill Turner for the cost of taking down the electronic signs, according to newspaper reports.
The campaign caused the City of Boston to shut down roads and sent police and Homeland Security scrambling to deal with Turner signs, placed under bridges and other public places.
"It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages," he said.
The network has not yet named Samples' replacement. Until they do, the network's senior team will report to Mark Lazarus, President of Cartoon's parent Turner Entertainment Group.
"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 Turner Entertainment Group President Mark Lazarus in an internal memo to colleagues. "He has our respect, appreciation and sincere best wishes."
Samples' resignation comes at an unfortunate time for Cartoon; on Wednesday, senior executives from the Atlanta-based network plan to come to New York to make their annual "upfront" presentation of new programming and advertising opportunities to media buyers and the press.
The company has been making a concerted effort to separate the Adult Swim-branded programming from the kid-targetted Cartoon Network fare in the minds of buyers, a process that was not helped by the Cartoon Network references in countless stories about the Adult Swim marketing gaffe.
-additional reporting from John Eggerton
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