Clear Channel Issues Upfront Challenge

The president of Clear Channel's integrated marketing division issued a challenge yesterday to marketers that are ready to spend millions of dollars in the upfront network TV market. And he's scheduled an event to back it up.

"We're challenging this process of the upfront," said Clear Channel Advantage president Don Howe. "God bless the TV networks for getting away with it, but I don't know what compels marketers into thinking that they have to enter that funnel every year."

Clear Channel owns and operates 37 TV stations. Howe said he understands the value of advertising on them. He is not advocating a departure from TV advertising. However, he and his company feel so strongly about what it thinks is a flawed process that it has scheduled an event right on the middle of it. On May 12th it will introduce what it calls The Gone From Home Network. Calling it the OUTfront, Clear Channel has scheduled some of its bigger names like Rush Limbaugh and Rick Dees to attend the event, as well as futurist Watts Wacker. Howe said he's hoping the event gets marketers to include out of home media as seriously as they do their upfront TV media buy.



Howe thinks agencies and their clients should spread their advertising buys across more media and across more time, rather than spending a large percentage in a small space of time and on one media.

"We're not coming here to sit there with blank order forms," Howe said. "That's not what this is about. We know that radio, outdoor and live entertainment sponsorships reach people everyday. We want marketers to pursue those options as well. We know we have the kind of national reach that they should consider."

The event will be held at the Clear Channel owned Ford Theatre. What to expect in terms of its content? A corporate statement says attendees will learn more about "expertise and access to assets needed to create, execute and measure media-marketing initiatives for national advertisers that want to motivate today's 'gone from home' consumers. Comprised of research, creative, media and marketing experts with specialized insight into GFH, Clear Channel Advantage creates idea-driven emotional connections between brands and consumers via customized, proprietary content and distribution networks that can incorporate any combination of Clear Channel's GFH media platforms: Radio, Outdoor, Live Entertainment and Interactive."

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