Sunday, June 17, 2007

And Now for a Syllable From Our Sponsor

The New Radio Spots, Shrinking Into Freckles

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007; D01

It goes by so quickly -- sneeze and you'll miss it -- that it's almost not there at all. Just as one song on the radio fades away and another begins, a ghostly voice intones: "Iced coffee at McDonald's."

No elaboration, no product superiority claims, no "tastes great!" braggadocio. Just four words. And gone.

Way back when, radio commercials were 60 seconds long. Eventually, the :60 begat the 30-second ad, which begat the :15. More recently, some spots have shrunk to just five seconds. Now, "Iced coffee at McDonald's" is part of the vanguard of radio commercials that take this trend to its obvious next diminution: the two-second ad.

The two-second format -- Clear Channel calls them "blinks" -- offers two immediate benefits for advertisers. Because the ultra-brief ads pop up within the programs themselves, they don't compete for consumers' attention with longer ads packed into minutes-long commercial breaks. (Clear Channel says it will run no more than two "blinks" per hour.) The second advantage is the ads' brevity and, well, sneakiness: A listener would have to be mighty fast on the draw to zap a two-second spot. (Clear Channel declined to disclose the price charged for nano-ads.) (MORE)

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