Imagine the child’s “Are we there yet?” refrain ballpeening the helpless brain into submission, and you can imagine the insidious effectiveness of the latest innovation in advertising: Clear Channel’s radio “blinks.”
The Fox television network has signed a deal to air two-second-long shout-outs, er commercials, on all 1100 Clear Channel radio stations every hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. — that’s 15,000 spots! — on the day of series premieres for hit shows Prison Break, House, and The Simpsons. The Prison Break campaign ran two days ago, August 21 – you might have heard it, unless you blinked.
Next up on the pinging agenda are blinks for the House premiere on September 5th and The Simpsons’ bow on September 10th. Fitting for their place of honor within the culture, The Simpsons get not just one but TWO blinks per hour on their day in the sun.
Given their blinky brevity, there is time to only say, “DOH! – The Simpsons tonight on Fox,” or “House tonight on Fox.” And while you might say, “Hey, I’ll take a two-second commercial jab over a 60-second pounding any old day,” these shorties don’t replace the longer spots, they “supplement” them.
Further blurring the almost nonexistent line between “content” and commercials — as you can hear on this House blink — these puppies can also run over the outros or intros of actual songs. So now you don’t have to wait for those massive commercial breaks to get your ad fix, they can be injected right into the “content” mix.
“FOX is carving out new territory with ‘blinks’ and demonstrating that our medium can successfully extend brands,” said Jeff Howard, Regional President of Clear Channel Radio Sales. “We expect massive tune in across all of Clear Channel’s formats, and that listeners will find this … original and surprising,” he said.
“They’re like pop-ups,” Kaye Bentley, senior vp of national media for Fox Television, told Mediaweek. “If you use blinks right, it’s reinforcing an existing message when you have a known product.”
Yes, I’m sure they will be depressingly effective and become ubiquitous, because the blinks are also cost-effective: Clear Channel set the blinking rate at 10 percent of a 60 second spot, but in today’s soft radio ad market, that was/is likely quite negotiable. “It was a win-win for both of us,” said Bentley. “They needed somebody to do it first and we got to do it first. We think it’s very, very cool,” she enthused.
She’s all about cool. Last season, Bentley teamed with Clear Channel to run 30-second radio spots every hour over a 24-hour period to serve as the countdown for the premiere of Fox series 24.