Proof that TV advertising does work! FBI nabs James ‘Whitey’ Bulger days after launching TV search

Suspected Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, 81, has been on the run for 16 years but just days after the FBI launched a TV campaign featuring his 60-year old girlfriend Catherine Greig, the old rascal has been arrested in an apartment block in Santa Monica, California.

Bulger is an interesting character for lots of reasons. Although a supposedly ruthless gang boss suspected of involvement in 19 murders, he was also an FBI informant for many years, providing information of the New England mafia, deadly enemies of his own Irish-based Winter Hill Gang.

He set off on the run after a tip-off from subsequently convicted FBI agent John Connolly Jnr.

Bulger’s brother William was a Massachusetts senator for 17 years and also president of the local university. James was one of the inspirations for Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film The Departed starring Jack Nicholson.

There have been numerous sightings of ‘Whitey’ (so-called after his shock of white hair) over the years but not by the FBI, much to its embarrassment. So the Feds turned to a TV campaign which has clearly paid off in double quick time.

On this occasion the Feds (or a clever planner at their agency) decided to concentrate on girlfriend Catherine who, presumably, was out and about more than Whitey, doing the shopping and stuff.

A dead cert for an effectiveness award I’d say.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.