KRAFT CABLE AD CONCEPT PUTS SQUEEZE ON SPOTS: PLAN WOULD GROUP FIVE COMMERCIALS IN 2-MIN. BREAK

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Kraft Foods is talking to cable networks about scooping up 2-minute commercial breaks and using the time to air five 24-second commercials.

The plan, dubbed "revolutionary" by one media executive, would squeeze an extra spot into the break by introducing a new commercial length and would give Kraft brands a platform uncluttered by messages from other marketers.

The buys would be made as part of Kraft's upfront commitments.

CABLE COMMITMENT

The marketer spent $95.2 million on cable last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"It sounds incredibly creative," said an agency media executive not involved in the deal.

Neither Kraft nor its media agency, MediaVest, New York, would comment on the plan.

The efficacy of shorter spots is open to debate. A recent study in the Journal of Advertising Research said 15-second commercials-while effective for short, simple messages-get 77% less recall than 30-second spots and are 77% less persuasive. But a 24-second commercial would be closer in length to a 30-second spot.

BASICALLY AN EXTRA SPOT

"The idea has a lot of appeal and I think it would work, especially depending on the price [efficiency] you could get by running what is basically an extra spot" in the break, said John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and co-author of the article.

It is not clear which brands Kraft would promote, and whether it would try to tie the five messages together with themes. Executives with knowledge of the concept said Kraft's inquiries are preliminary and there are no guarantees that the marketer or the cable networks will follow through on the idea.

"From the cable side, [the question is] do they want to set the precedent?" asked one of the executives. "From the Kraft/MediaVest side, they need to make sure they have the systems in place to track it."

The other major move in pre-upfront positioning was Fox's recent bombshell that it wants to take back 20 30-second commercial slots in prime time from its affiliates. In fact, the company's strategy is actually to reduce its national prime-time inventory and, with luck, tighten up prices.

AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN

Fox's owned-and-operated stations, which cover 40% of the country, have already agreed to an alternative plan that lets stations buy back the 20 spots from Fox. The network will then give the stations an additional 15 prime-time units from its national inventory. Those spots will be sold locally, with Fox getting a cut. (Under the proposed formula, Fox will determine average net revenue for a prime-time spot on each station and then take 25% of that figure multiplied by 15.)

The alternative plan will be implemented if affiliates covering at least 30% of the country join the owned-and-operated stations in accepting it. If Fox does wind up with inventory from some affiliates, it can sell the time locally (in competition with the affiliate) or use the time for promos. The time will not be

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