Media: A Moment with Marquis

Football - dontcha love it? You are going to have to try, because very soon there is going to be an awful lot of football going on. Aside from the re-crowning of Chelsea as the Premiership champions, a gripping Liverpool versus West Ham FA Cup Final and the nail-biting denouement of the Champions League, there is the small matter of the 2006 World Cup. If you're not keen on football, then, as they say, look away now.

There will soon be a deluge of footy-related commercials and sponsorship credits featuring pubby humour and blokeish asides. In spite of the current round of gloomy predictions for the summer airtime market, it will be a veritable orgy of football and football-inspired promotion.

The media industry - purely in the spirit of keeping its finger on the pulse of popular culture, of course - will decamp en masse to Berlin, Munich and Nuremburg, closely marking their clients and customers (can you tell by the tone of this who isn't going?).

Those who remain will be superglued to TV screens and capable only of sporadic grunting. If you are female, just accept that the men in your life will be incommunicado for several weeks. It has its upsides ...

Actually, my own observations of the beautiful game (a couple of outings a season to Plymouth Argyle where "beautiful" doesn't come into it) suggest that women are as addicted as men. My wife, normally a reasonably well-adjusted person as far as one can tell, spends Saturday afternoons howling at the television in support of Arsenal instead of jam-making. Channel 4 promises a football-free haven during the World Cup - will there be any takers? Of either sex?

This is the eighth World Cup of my advertising career and a pattern has established itself. A year beforehand, we talk up the World Cup: boost to ad revenues, opportunities abound, bumper year. Three months from kick-off, we get the jitters: revenue in freefall, advertisers battening down till it's all over, tough year just got tougher.

Well, the pundits are probably right. The media landscape in 2006 is rather different to that of 2002, let alone 1982, and there's no doubt this is already a tough year. But I'll stick my neck out and predict it doesn't turn out as bad as they're saying. Free markets have a way of spotting good value and if some of the big spenders stay away, there will be juicy pickings for those that have the stomach for the summer football-fest. And if I'm wrong, well, that's football for you, isn't it Gary?

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