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Channel 10's wacky wiki marketing

Why would Channel 10 bother with a Web site for its new drama series when there's Wikipedia? Well, here are several reasons.

Ella Morton

commentary If you caught Van Helsing on Channel 10 on Sunday night, you're probably wishing you had those three hours of your life back, but you may also have noticed a promo for the upcoming drama Jericho.

While the show doesn't look hugely compelling, one feature of the trailer was certainly noteworthy. Instead of promoting an official Web site like www.jericho.com.au or perhaps www.heydoesanyonerememberteenidolSkeetUlrich.com, the ad directed potential fans to search for Jericho on Wikipedia.

There are several problems with this approach, not least of which is the motive behind promoting the open-source Wikipedia as an authoritative, officially sanctioned information source. Is this meant to be part of some sort of innovative, "we're down with the Web 2.0 kiddies" street-level marketing campaign? Is it an invitation for viewers to incite a bit of cheeky digital mayhem by vandalising the Jericho page? Or is it more likely that a bunch of Channel 10 work experience kids are being told to chuck content onto the page in order to drum up interest in what looks to be a pretty ordinary TV series?

Whatever the motivation, the Jericho Wikipedia page is currently in lockdown mode, having been subject to a variety of unusual additions and alterations. Checking the history of the page reveals one contributor "chose to sprotect [Wikipedia-speak for restrict contributions] under the grounds of recent unrelevant edits due to a url to wikipedia being displayed with jericho on australian tv".

Surely the people at Channel 10, being so in touch with that magical 16-39 demographic, would have realised that screening the Wikipedia URL during a top-rating program on a Sunday night might lead to a viewer or two signing in and making mischief. Then there's the problem that despite Wikipedia's prevailing "the wisdom of the masses will correct the idiocy of the few" philosophy, untruths and subjective information creep into articles on a regular basis. Why on Earth would a major television station align itself with an information resource that can be edited by any old geezer?

I've previously had a go at Channel 10 about the complete lack of an online strategy, and it seems the approach to Internet marketing hasn't improved. Sure, it's cool that you can text comments to Mark, Marcia and Kyle during Australian Idol, but that's not going to cut it when you've got NineMSN and Yahoo7 to compete with. This latest Wikipedia blunder is just one example of how the station is struggling to keep up with its own demographic. Chase those viewers, Channel 10 -- if you're wondering where they've gone, check BitTorrent and YouTube.