Fox building its fall mystery

Cryptic messages part of massive push for Abrams' new 'Fringe'

"Find the pattern," growls a voice from your radio. The gravelly suggestion interrupts a commercial for the Abrams Auto car dealership and concludes with a whisper of "Fox."

The Fox network is hoping listeners will piece together the mysterious fragments and realize there is indeed a pattern — one that leads straight to the network's tentpole fall series "Fringe."

The ads are part of Fox's innovative new ad campaign for the J.J. Abrams action drama that the network hopes to use to jump-start its fall season. Although the network declined to release specific dollar figures, the campaign represents Fox's largest scripted series marketing effort in years.

The campaign will feature cryptic messages that encourage fans to search on the Internet for more information. Fans of Abrams' hit ABC drama "Lost" and last year's theatrical release "Cloverfield" are familiar with the tactic, so much so that Abrams' name is incorporated into the radio ads as a clue.

"Our radio goal was definitely to not say 'Fringe,' " said Laurel Bernard, senior vp marketing at Fox. "We didn't want them to sound in any way like a traditional radio spot. We wanted them to be disruptive and a little mysterious sounding."

The campaign also includes online ads placed on Web sites outside of the usual entertainment hubs to catch viewers' attention in unique locations. Users on such sites as and recipe site will see mysterious ads encouraging them to "Imagine the Impossibilities."

"They will be very quick sort of messages, leading people to nondescript Web sites that will ultimately lead them back to 'Fringe,' " Bernard said.

With the campaign, Fox is getting an early start on its fall marketing. The network's off-air efforts usually don't being until six weeks before a series premiere. The "Fringe" marketing barrage starts today to promote the show's Sept. 9 premiere. (partialdiff)