Fox, Unilever bring back 'Rookie'


NEW YORK -- Even with "24" off the air this season due to the writers strike, Unilever's Degree deodorant has partnered with Fox for a second season of "The Rookie" digital shorts inspired by the hit series.

Entitled "The Rookie: Day 3 Extraction," the six digital shorts – each running about three to five minutes – chronicle the further adventures of American Counter Terrorism agent Jason Blaine, as he tries to rescue his boss who is kidnapped by members of a nefarious drug cartel.

The shorts are being directed by "24's" director of photography Rodney Charters, who has directed past episodes of the show, and are set in the same "high-stakes" world as "24," utilizing its trademark style. Various members of "24's" key production crew and stunt coordination teams also participated in the production.

"This is a great vehicle for Fox and for the Degree brand to bring their equities together and to give '24' fans content at a time when the show is not on air," said said Sam Chadha, marketing director, deodorants, Unilever. "It's a mutually beneficial arrangement and a partnership that was very successful in its first year. That's why we want to be working with them in the second."

The shorts were produced by MindShare Entertainment and its production partner Science + Fiction. Unilever paid Fox a licensing fee to Fox for the rights to the property and is also promoting the content through media buys on numerous Fox-owned websites targeted at its 25-34-year-old male demographic.

The series is also being distributed much more widely this year, via mobile devices and video on demand, as well as online, as it was last year. "The Rookie: Day 3 Extraction" will debut Monday at and on the Searchlight section of Comcast On Demand and via channel 886. On April 7, it will premiere on DirecTV channel 115. Every week another episode will air.

Unilever is running 30-second spot trailers, with Degree end cards and tag lines on the Fox-owned sites as well as on DirecTV and Comcast. Both the online and on-demand platforms will provide access to the exclusive content, including hi-definition versions in Dolby 5.1 surround sound, behind-the-scenes footage and a sweepstakes providing fans an opportunity to win prizes including a new Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle.

"The response was so tremendous last year from consumers that we're thrilled to be back again for day 3 of 'The Rookie's' adventures," said David Lang, president of MindShare Entertainment. "I think the program will be bigger this year. We took our content to a whole new level."

"It's not uncommon for a powerful property such as '24' to have a large and passionate fan base, but it's a real breakthrough when we can find new ways to deliver more great entertainment to those fans," said Elie Dekel, executive vp, Licensing & Merchandising, 20th Century Fox.