Clear Channel ‘Blinks’ for Fox Premieres

NEW YORK Clear Channel Radio’s miniature commercials, known as “Blinks,” have attracted their first marketer: Fox Broadcasting.

The 1-to-3- second spots are being used to (literally) shout out the fall season premieres of House, Prison Break and The Simpsons.

Clear Channel’s creative services group and Fox’s radio promotions staff experimented with nearly 50 blinks and settled on one per premiere. In the blink for Prison Break, a jolt of theme music precedes the plug, “Prison Break, tonight on Fox!” Using the same two-second template, the blink for The Simpsons features Homer’s signature “D’oh!” catchphrase.

What blinks lack in duration they make up in frequency: the Prison Break spot, for example, runs hourly from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., leading up to tonight’s season kickoff. The next round of blinks will unfold with the House premiere on Sept. 5 and The Simpsons debut on Sept. 10.

Clear Channel developed the ultra-short format to complement, not replace, longer ads. The Fox blinks, which run in tandem with 60-second spots, are “reinforcing [the] message,” said Kaye Bentley, client senior vice president. Just long enough to take a property’s pulse, blinks aim to refresh viewing habits among dedicated fans while hooking new converts, she said.

According to Clear Channel Communications CEO Mark Mays, blinks cost more per second than standard spots, and pricing varies by daypart. Still, “they’re very, very, very cost-effective,” Bentley said, adding that the opportunity to embed spots in content, “and not in a commercial break,” is a compelling solution to conventionally structured radio.

Though she declined to discuss rates, Bentley stressed the saturation value of running close to 15,000 units (or a blink an hour for 13 hours) across 1,100 stations nationwide.