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FBI uses old-fashioned advertising to nab ‘most wanted’

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jun 23, 2011

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger will appear in court this morning here in L.A. after the FBI nabbed him last night in nearby Santa Monica, Calif. And they got him just a day after airing a local TV ad aimed at women. Here’s a clip.

TV AD: Have you seen this woman? These photos are from the early 1990s. Greig has had plastic surgeries.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer is with us now live to explain why the feds went after that particular demographic. Good morning Nancy.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: So the FBI has been running most wanted ads, I know, for a long time. What was different about this one?

MARSHALL GENZER: Well, the FBI decided to try to find Bulger’s girlfriend. You heard the name Greig in that ad. They were talking about Catherine Greig. And they were thinking she’d be with him. And guess what? They were right. They ran ads during daytime TV shows that they figured women would be watching. Greig went to the beauty salon a lot Steve. The FBI was trying to reach women who might have done her nails or her hair, or seen her in a salon.

Adam Hanft is an advertising analyst and he’s pretty impressed with the FBI.

ADAM HANFT: So it’s using some of the techniques of traditional targeting in a unique way. I’m encouraged by the act that the government is thinking that innovatively and using media as a sophisticated tool.

CHIOTAKIS: Tool — how much did that tool cost? The ad cost the FBI?

MARSHALL GENZER: Well, the campaign cost about $50,000. Now Steve, Bulger had a $2 million price on his head. He eluded the FBI for 16 years. Now he faces a series of federal charges including murder and money laundering.

CHIOTAKIS: All right and as I mentioned that hearing this morning here in Los Angeles. Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer. Nancy thanks.

MARSHALL GENZER: You’re welcome.

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