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Fox launches ’24’ ad attack

Commercial free Jack FM broadcasts will plug show

Fox is launching an all out Jack attack in order to promote Sunday’s sixth season premiere of “24”–and we don’t mean Jack Bauer, either.

For 24 hours this Saturday, all 11 CBS-owned Jack FM stations will broadcast commercial free, thanks to underwriting from Fox’s marketing department. Listeners will hear occasional messages from the snarky Jack announcer explaining to them that the music marathon is courtesy of Bauer’s bosses at the network.

Stunt is just one of several radio-themed promotions Fox has been staging for the past week or so leading up to the critical premiere of “24.”

Net struck a deal with Radio One – the company behind major urban radio outlets like Los Angeles’ KRBV, which until recently was known The Beat–to underwrite 24-song music marathons for the entire weekend. In addition to the commercial-free music, promotion will include “24” DVDs and a giveaway with prizes ranging from $240 to $24,000.

The biggest innovation Fox is using, however, is just two seconds long.

In an massive expansion of a strategy it began in the fall, Fox has been running two-second ads for “24” it calls “blinks.” All listeners hear is two seconds of the familiar “24” countdown chimes.

There’s also a five-second version–an “adlet”–that features an announcer noting the date and time of the “24” premiere.

“The reason the blinks are so good is that they’re not in commerical breaks,” said Kaye Bentley, senior VP of national media and on-air promotion for Fox. “You could be listening to a U2 song, and then you hear the ’24’ chimes. The placement… breaks through the clutter.”

Fox first used the blinks last fall to hype the season premiere of “The Simpsons,” airing ads that consisted of nothing more than Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” Those aired on Clear Channel stations across the country.

Now Fox is expanding the ad buy to include all Clear Channel stations as well as all CBS Radio stations in 35 top markets. Net will also use blinks for “American Idol,” teasing viewers with the “whoa-ah, whoa-ah” beat from the show’s theme, starting Monday.

Other nets have also followed suit. NBC, for example, used “adlets” for “Heroes” last fall.

Also in the works: major advertising or promotion with Amazon and AOL, as well as a targeted email blast. Fox will also feature a clock counting down the minuts until “24” during Sunday night’s episodes of “The Simpsons.”

“We take nothing for granted,” Bentley said. “We leave no stone unturned.”