One Second Of Fame

Clear Channel Radio is reportedly looking at one way to take its “less is more” advertising concept to a whole new level: The one-second radio spot.

Called “Blinks,” the idea is to generate publicity and brand identity, not necessarily to sell product.

Examples of Blinks would be audio brands like the Intel chimes or NBC bells, or visuals like the image of a bullet going through a Master Lock padlock. It’s a serious concept; not a mere publicity stunt.

“It really is to find new uses of radio for advertisers who are continually asking us to demonstrate that our medium can successfully extend brands, can successfully reach the consumer with touchpoints that are new and surprising” Jim Cook, senior VP creative for Clear Channel Radio, told Advertising Age.

The group has already created demo spots. One inserts McDonald’s current jingle music (sans the “I’m lovin’ it” tag) between hip-hop songs. Another demo involves a horn and a voice saying “mini” for the Mini Cooper automobile. Neither company has signed a deal for Blinks with Clear Channel, according to Advertising Age.

In fact, there’s no deal to be sold yet – the one-second spot is in the concept stage only. Three-second spots are also being considered.

Richards Group exec Jim Gaither has been in talks with Clear Channel about the slightly longer spots.

“It’s not building a brand; it’s refreshing a brand,” he told the magazine. “You can’t use a one-second campaign for something that generally has not been advertised before.”

There’s other skeptics, too, Ad Age reports.

Horizon Media managing director Lauren Russo told the trade mag that “I can’t see any advertiser, any agency paying for a spot that’s one second.” And she wouldn’t take the bait if offered.

“If they want to throw it in at no charge, I don’t think we would say no,” she said, but, “I just don’t see how you can communicate anything in that little time period.”

But in keeping with the “less is more” concept of selling more and shorter radio spots at a greater per-minute rate, Clear Channel could be on to something.

Gaither told the magazine the radio giant hasn’t decided on either pricing or packaging of Blinks, but he estimates that the time might be sold at a 200 percent to 300 percent increase on what 1/30th of a 30-second spot might cost.

But because of the difficulties inherent in placing or measuring the effectiveness of a single second of time, it very well could be that the Blink has more value as free advertising in stories like this one.