Media Perspective: Rooney's street gig shows cross-media execution at its best

Recent days have seen a temporary brightening in the picture surrounding commercial television.

At last, there was some good news for ITV as the chief operating officer, John Cresswell, revealed that its December ad revenues would increase 4 per cent, a rise as steep as a "Jedward" quiff in the current climate.

With The X Factor in full swing and talk of Jordan returning to the jungle hitting the front page of the tabloids, TV was doing its best to capture the headlines from the launch of a mere video game - Activision's unveiling of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at midnight on Monday was dubbed the biggest entertainment launch of all time.

Recently, some of the stories surrounding TV content have been equally compelling, though not always positive. Witness Microsoft's decision to pull out of sponsoring a Family Guy spin-off on Fox TV after realising that the show's content can be a little risque.

More cleverly, Ryanair criticised the BBC for its "hatchet job" Panorama show, but then had the nous to use it as a promotional tool and launched a 1.1 million free flights offer on the back of the coverage.

Over on Channel 4, Heston Blumenthal's revamp of Little Chef continued with his return to the roadside chain in Did Heston Change Little Chef?. Which, despite its flaws, reminded a Channel 4 audience that Little Chef is at least trying to put itself back on the map and is now in The Good Food Guide.

But the most powerful brand association on TV right now is advertiser-funded content in the shape of the football-themed Coke Zero Presents: Wayne Rooney's Street Striker.

Now in its second run as a TV series on Sky1, the show sees the Manchester United striker host a competition for 24 "urban" footballers, who compete in skills tests to emerge as the best. As a show, it's watchable enough - especially as its first outing benefited from the comparison of following the tedious Chelsea versus Man Utd game on Sky last Sunday.

But the truly impressive thing about Street Striker is that it's a piece of content, like The X Factor but on a much tighter budget, that lives and breathes beyond the screen. Probably because it was first developed by Coke and its agencies, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment and AKQA, as a piece of online content, the TV show is just one part of a classy piece of through-the-line, cross-media execution.

To me, this is much more entertaining and involving than gimps jumping around Trafalgar Square or telling their mum that they love them in an outdoor poster for a chocolate bar. And it just goes to show that the power of an hour-long TV show, paid for or not, remains hard to beat.


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