Marketers Will Not Destroy Second Life

crayon_secondlife.jpg

Much negativity has surrounded the launch of a new marketing company called Crayon. The company chose to make their launch announcement within Second Life where they established an island outpost. Some seem to think it's the end of Second Life because Crayon, along with all kinds of other marketers, will enter Second Life with no respect for the world's current residents. To coin a Second Lifers anti-marketing sentiment, it's all a gallery of lies. Second Life will be just fine with or without marketers.

First of all, Crayon is not a company whose sole purpose is to create marketing programs within Second Life. The company created the outpost as an efficient place to conduct business. Sure, some of the work they do may be Second Life-related but that is not the focus of the company. We don't profess to know anything more than what a couple months-worth of visits to Second Life have provided but, as far as we can see, no one is forcing Second Life residents to pay any attention at all to brands entering the world. In fact. most have been set up on islands which can easily be ignored or never discovered in the first place.

It is completely understandable Second Life residents would be upset by the current onslaught of brands entering the world and the fear the brands will have no respect for the way things are done or for the hard work many residents have spent years accomplishing. Certainly, there will be many missteps by brands as they explore this new world and yes, there will be press releases filled with mindless, meaningless blather pontificating such "paradigm shifting" marketing blather. But that's just harmless, standard operating procedure in the world on marketing.

It's true most marketers have never heard of Second Life and don't realize it's been around since 1999 or so and that much virtual blood, sweat and tears have been spent building the place. But marketers, as they usually do, like to jump into these cool new things with much fanfare spouting the "first, best, only" theme and spilling forth senseless jargon without completely understanding what they're talking about. It's just their/our way. But they are not dumb and they are not stupid enough not to realize harming Second Life residents will make their entrance into the world pointless in the first place. Just like any successful new endeavor, Second Life is expanding faster than America's waistline and with that growth, inevitably comes marketers eager to get a piece of the fat. It's the natural life cycle of things.

In the marketing community, Second Life is the cool new thing just like YouTube, MySpace, podcasting and blogging recently were and AOL was a decade ago. And marketers love cool, new things. Marketers can't help but glom onto the next new thing because, well, that's where the people are and advertising, like it or not, follows the people because the people have money. Add to that the decline in effectiveness of "old media" and it's become a land grab for anything that remotely resembles a means by which to reach an audience that's gaining more control over how, what, when and where they consume media. Second Life is this week's poster child for "cool new ad medium" and it's now part of every agency presentation to their clients.

Both "sides" if you will are strangers to one another and a "getting to know you" period would be a step in the right direction lest each continue to misunderstand the other and do more harm than good. Second Life is not first life and first life's "rules" should not apply to Second Life. It's an entirely different world and right now, the residents know a whole lot more than the marketers. That does not, however, mean marketers - puff-filled press releases aside - should be immediately cast off as clueless idiots.

All of that said, while Second Life is a very cool place and very hot topic right now, it is but a faint, far off star in the gigantic universe of marketing. Sure, something may come of it Matrix-style but for now, it's mostly hot air and something to "hip up" a marketing presentation.

In terms off Crayon, that organization will be the least of the resident's problems as marketers continue their stampede towards this week's medium du jour. Crayonville is just a convenient place for that company's employees to meet and do business. It's not a vast conspiracy to tear down years of hard work Second Life residents have engaged in to make the place the fantastic experience it has become.

Peace.

by Steve Hall    Oct-29-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Brands, Online, Opinion, Social, Trends and Culture   

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Comments



Comments

"But they are not dumb and they are not stupid enough to realize harming Second Life residents will make their entrance into the world pointless in the first place."

This commentary would be better received if Nissan wasn't currently in game right now destroying the car economy by giving cars away for free.

Posted by: Boz on October 29, 2006 9:04 PM

A lesson Nissan will need to learn very quickly.

Posted by: Steve Hall on October 29, 2006 9:43 PM

There's no doubt many brands will make missteps in SL. In my view Crayon made a huge one - not least because they couldn't get their story (even their language) straight. Plus - Jaffe obviously has no clue what he is ranting on about.

Posted by: Geoff Schwartz on October 29, 2006 10:07 PM

Brands have always been part of our lives. Why should SL be any different?

Now that said, brands will definitely not be allowed to get away with the kind of abuse they've enjoyed for so long in RL.

I can speak for everyone at crayon when I say, we will proceed with care, consideration, respect and with the feedback from the real SL pioneers.

Peace x 2

Posted by: Joseph Jaffe on October 30, 2006 12:19 AM

Good post, along the lines of what I wrote here: http://www.knowprose.com/node/16507 (already linked back here).

The people who are making the most noise are the people who are being adversely affected - as Buz said, the 'car manufacturers' in SecondLife. But this is to be expected for 2 reasons: (1) Nothing lasts forever and (2) There are plenty of free cars in SecondLife - and (3) Who really needs a car in a virtual world where you can teleport and FLY? (4) Not everyone wants to drive a Nissan.

I (Nobody Fugazi), for one, do not have one and do not wish to have one. I doubt anyone who didn't want a Nissan got one and used it a lot - instead, adding to the clutter of their inventory. Indeed, giving things away for free tends to attract the people without money in SL.

Ruining the car market? Please! There's not much innovation there. Just scanning new textures and upgrading scripts when LSL (the scripting language) is updated. That's all there is to this virtual car market, and Nissan just ponied up. Did these SL 'car manufacturers' expect to sit there and have steady revenue coming in for the rest of their lives? It would seem so.

The realization of the ability to do original things is the true victim in all of this - and that preceded Nissan and other brand names entering the market. Very few people try to do *new* things, instead trying to copy RL and sidestep manufacturing and material costs. And they are upset when RL companies now mimic them in SL?

The point is that if you're depending on simply building cars in SL as a business model, you're in for the rude awakening of any business: when the market shifts, the inflexible shatter.

Posted by: Taran on October 30, 2006 12:25 AM

I'm not persuaded by this article at all, because the potential for Big Corporations to suck away the top skilled labour and flood the indigenous market with either freebies or shoddy merchandise is huge.

Marxists and anti-globalists like Nobody Fugazi should be more concerned about what it means for big corporations to overwhelm a fragile synthetic economy like this. Adidas sells their sneakers. Nissan could be giving loss leaders, but they should sell their cars, too and live on equal footing with those who have to struggle for micropayments to understand the world.

I'm more concerned about what it means for General Motors to give away free land to content producers and the 'brain drain' this represents, as well as the flood on the land market devaluing virtual estate.

It was supposed to be a Better World, not a replica of real life and the ravages of globalization.

Posted by: Prokofy Neva on October 30, 2006 12:57 AM

My favorite part (and I'm looking at some Second Life marketing gimmicks myself - have to stay on the bandwagon) is that the effective population of Second Life is so incredibly tiny. This isn't MySpace. Maybe someday it will be, but for something that goes down once a week and provides the marketing efficiency of a billboard behind a bar, its a another case of "podcasts are the future!" style marketers spazzing out over something they really don't understand. BUT - it's great PR. I'm sure more people are reading about what's happening with marketers in Second Life than are actually seeing them in Second Life "live".

Posted by: Sean on October 30, 2006 1:09 AM

One question:

Why are you bothering to write their PR releases for them? It is an insignificant company on an insignificant platform doing no work of any note (and given history probably never will.)

Why is this information we need to know or even bother commenting on?

Next...

Posted by: Skeptical on October 30, 2006 1:21 AM

There was a very curious use of the word 'we' early on in the post - as if the writer was speaking on behalf of Crayon.

I was just wondering who authored this post, and what their connection is with Crayon..?

There does appear to be some favoritism towards Crayon in this article and thus I'm left with a suspicion the author has an interest in the company.

Posted by: Ben Metcalfe on October 30, 2006 3:31 AM

Fucktards in Cyperspace

A 3-D Rejection of Public Relations on the Web

Today, we are especially pleased to post a guest column by Urizenus Sklar, founder and contributing editor of The Second Life Herald.

First, by way of introduction... a few weeks ago we explored the increasing rejection of PR on the World Wide Web. Regrettably, last week Paul Holmes confirmed our greatest fear, i.e. the industry seems to be in near total denial. In an article titled Wiki Whackiness, Paul tried to isolate the issue exclusively to Wikipedia. Fact is, Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, is only bowing to the rising political pressure in cyberspace. PR is being shunned and summarily locked out of all things social media. In an interview Wales said, "PR-firms editing in a community space is deeply unethical, and clients should put very firm pressure on their PR firms not embarrass them this way."

Well, this last week we saw the latest shoe to drop. The launch of Crayon, claiming to be "the world's first new marketing company," in Second Life, the Web's premier 3-D virtual world, was harshly panned. Without further ado, here's Uri.

http://www.strumpette.com/archives/218-Fucktards-in-Cyperspace.html

Posted by: Amanda Chapel on October 30, 2006 7:24 AM

"There was a very curious use of the word 'we' early on in the post - as if the writer was speaking on behalf of Crayon."

Ben: I believe that is the conceit used on this blog - to use the royal "we", instead of saying "I". He was speaking as the author of this post, saying he had only been visiting Second Life for a few months.

Posted by: Eric Eggertson on October 30, 2006 8:22 AM

That is a huge assumption at this point -- given the fact that this is the second article about a company that accomplished absolutely nothing yet (nor seems destined to.)

It would seem that either Mr. Hall has a special interest in Crayon (read: potential silent investor/partner), or someone has some negatives of him that he hopes don't get out.

Posted by: Skeptical on October 30, 2006 8:51 AM

Eric is right I, Steve Hall, publisher of this site, write in the royal we. It's just a style that was adopted long ago. In terms of my relationship with Crayon, there is none other that the fact its founder Joe Jaffe is someone I have known for several years. I've read his book. He's been on panels with me. He's just a fixture in the marketing world and as someone who writes about marketing, I have to know who he is. Beyond that, I have no ties to Crayon.

If you do a bit of searching here, you will find I have not always said kind things about Joe, his podcast and his other endeavors. No one is perfect.

The point of this article is to simply call attention to the usual fuckery that goes on when the "mass" discovers the "niche" and exploits is for all it's worth. It happened with blogging. It's happening with Second Life.

One would hope there's a happy medium somewhere.

And yes, this is making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill along with the fact it is most certainly a PR play right now.

Posted by: Steve Hall on October 30, 2006 9:23 AM

By "we" he's talking of himself as part of the advertising crowd in general.

Posted by: Boz on October 30, 2006 9:23 AM

Second Lifer: My life is lame, nobody likes me, I'll start all over in SL.

Jaffe: I'm an account hack, a creative wannabe, a buzzword dropper. But, maybe I can get away with it in SL.

Posted by: Eddie on October 30, 2006 9:52 AM

Marxists, Prok? You amuse me, because your whining is more socialist than capitalist in nature, and now you have resorted to mud-flinging.

May I suggest you get a Third Life?

Posted by: Nobody Fugazi on October 30, 2006 10:08 AM

I'm going back to my Sega 64. Now that the new P3 is out, I can finally enjoy it in peace.

This whole internet web wide world thing has my head all nutz.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on October 30, 2006 11:06 AM

The metaworld of SL is a resident-created virtual world where you can buy, sell , trade hang-out or become something you are only in your mindseye. SL is the best avatar world there is and Brands have moved in permanently. JJ and Crayon have done a superb job of creating excellent content and Crayon carbon units are readily accessable. Good Show. Good Example for the community ours).;\


Posted by: arthur on October 30, 2006 11:25 AM

One sentence in particular jumped out at me:

"and yes, there will be press releases filled with mindless, meaningless blather pontificating such "paradigm shifting" marketing blather. But that's just harmless, standard operating procedure in the world on marketing."

If that's what PR firms believe then they are going to get hammered and hammered and hammered again in these social networking spaces. Credibility counts for a lot, and social networks are very good at groking out error and hype and then broadcasting the nature, source and harm of the error and hype. In this case, falsely claiming to be the "first" whatever is deeply wounding to those who actually did the hard work and *were* the first. Fellow community members will be quite angry and *will* defend their community members and *will* reject the false claimants.

I think there is room for PR and marketing in SL, and indeed indigenous forms of it already exist and are very effective. But the notion that you are going to get away with "standard operating proceedure" is an absolute joke.

Do your homework, for gopod's sake.

Posted by: Peter Ludlow on October 30, 2006 11:39 AM

One sentence in particular jumped out at me:

"and yes, there will be press releases filled with mindless, meaningless blather pontificating such "paradigm shifting" marketing blather. But that's just harmless, standard operating procedure in the world on marketing."

If that's what PR firms believe then they are going to get hammered and hammered and hammered again in these social networking spaces. Credibility counts for a lot, and social networks are very good at groking out error and hype and then broadcasting the nature, source and harm of the error and hype. In this case, falsely claiming to be the "first" whatever is deeply wounding to those who actually did the hard work and *were* the first. Fellow community members will be quite angry and *will* defend their community members and *will* reject the false claimants.

I think there is room for PR and marketing in SL, and indeed indigenous forms of it already exist and are very effective. But the notion that you are going to get away with "standard operating proceedure" is an absolute joke.

Do your homework, for gopod's sake.

Posted by: Peter Ludlow on October 30, 2006 11:42 AM

While I'm supporting the great comments of Peter and satire from Strumpette, I'm inclined to see what actually comes out of this gathering of practitioners.

But gosh, Crayonites, the messaging at the launch made me want to dash over to Studio 54 Second Life to hear Prince croon, "We're gonna party like it's 1999."

The launch event was a bit forced obviously a lot of egos and lots of buzz phrases ("It's all about collaborating not competing," "We want to talk," "Change the World," "I invented the phrase 'New Marketing'"), not much substance on what they'll actually do (Coke is a client) or how they'll make money, but a bit intriguing too increased visibility for any SL effort might be a good thing for us marketers looking at "new" media to speak with folks/potential customers.

To prove that I'm still playing my First Life role as PR investigator (or hypocrite), I sent a note to CC Chapman with some clips for Topaz Partners client Podcast Ready (including a cool interview we did in SL with TheStreet.com) to see if we might colloborate or work together.

So, let's all sit back and see if this box of crayons can produce something as important as my son's 1st grade art work.

Posted by: Adam Zand on October 30, 2006 4:08 PM

Steve - gotta disagree with you in that I feel you've always been quite balanced on the way you've reported on/about me. Typically the posts are more positive than negative (I'll take that as a compliment), but there is also always a Hallesque Zinger to boot.

You were quite complimentary about my podcast, but you complained it was too long. Take a number :)

Verbosity is my middle name. I thought it was Danger?

Posted by: Joseph Jaffe on October 30, 2006 6:45 PM

OK, I spent the weekend on SL... to try & understand the buzz (hype, if you ask me). I quickly, easily and often ran into "fetish" this and "nympho" that. Is it just me or is SL just a big porn site? Very disappointed. I guess I just didn't explore enough? I'm not sure I saw any non-gutter material. I will say the interface / technology was extremely cool. I'm just not too hip on the virtual boinking idea.

Posted by: Bob on October 30, 2006 7:48 PM

Steve, I have to admit I'm disappointed. This exemplifies "old media" thinking to the Nth degree.

"But that's just harmless, standard operating procedure in the world on marketing."

Crayon's is a case in which *The Message* was far more important than the new-media-mantra of Engagement and you (and Crayon) should have recognized that. Old media thinking in a world that is nothing but new media...

And, it isn't harmless. The SL residents may not be Crayon's target market, so it is okay to say "so what, get over it"? But aren't the people behind the avatars the target market of the clients Crayon will be working with? I'm pretty sure we are....

Trust me, it wasn't avatars who were offended.

Posted by: Linda Zimmer on October 30, 2006 8:39 PM

Well here I go lining myself up in front of the firing squad, because my firm (Green Grotto Studios) is one of those who are leveraging the SL platform to build best case interactive intitatives for some pretty significant brands. I see SL as a platform, like Flash, but it just has a cool gaming/community slant that makes it quite exciting. Like Flash (our primary expertise), it's a powerful way of engaging and interacting with the client (I'll be far happier when we integrate the platforms to work alongside each other). To be up front I'm all for debate, because I don't expect every single person who loves Second Life to love our clients or more simply, what we are doing. We've been spending time (months) educating ourselves, interacting amongst the community and educating our clients on the good, bad and ugly regarding the current big brand adopters as well as the private "small-guys". FYI, some of the "small-guys" are making more money(Linden Dollars) than some of the large brands will ever make. Those folks are the inspiration. They are what drives our creativity and competitive thinking.

In my humble opinion most of the backlash is stemming from poor execution on the brand's part (and depending on the relationship their agency). It looks pretty yet it's rather boring. They are not engaging the community, in and out of world. Look at the cottage industry (soon to be more refined and professional if not already) of blogs (New World Notes), private news organizations (SLH, MM and SLN), podcasts (Second Cast) and the Flickr-esque Snapzilla. All of those folks have at least an ad model, which is paying to run the site, and based on the pricing, their salary. On top of that, some of our competitors (Electric Sheep, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red) hatched their models off of the Second Life platform. All of them are doing quite well and to be honest I'm jealous of their early success, but their success is everyone's success so the vibes are not negative. I can't speak about Crayon because they haven't done anything yet and like us, it's a wait and see.

On top of all of this it's not always going to be about in-world sales. It could be promotion, product launch, sponsoships, education, training, research, conceptual testing and most importantly creating dialogue between the community and the brand. The first thing we say to our clients is "This will be a miserable failure if you refuse to engage the community and open a dialogue." At the end of the day Reebok can't just decide to build a big store and plop it on a sim expecting the community to rush in and praise the almighty custom RBK shoe. Currently, all they have is a very expensive ad banner that's missing a url to take you "someplace". They need to do more and right now we are not seeing it. I'm not picking on Reebok, because you can say the same thing about some of the others as well.

I don't expect anybody to believe in what we're doing until we launch it, nor can I even divulge the information, but I can promise you it will be far more engaging than what currently exists. If for any reason, because it has to be.

Feel free to find me in SL. My avatar is MSGiro Grosso. If you're a traditional communictor then use the "Send me an email" option. I'm more than happy to continue this discussion.

Posted by: MSGiro on October 31, 2006 9:42 AM

Doesn't anyone just ride bikes outside anymore?

Posted by: bloggadocio on November 1, 2006 1:05 PM

I appreciate you addressing this issue, but I think you should spend a little more time on understanding the issues involved. Most second life developers are developer-residents .. so they have a real stake in the world of Second Life. Giganto corporations only see it as a marketing platform. Also, while second life merchants like myself are focused on serving the ingame market with products that enhance the ingame experience, the goal of your work is to enhance the brand of real world corporations. You don't see these two being in conflict? How much is Nissan charging ingame residents for their virtual cars? Thats right .. nothing .. they don't care about ingame car sales .. they care about real-life car sales. What is the long term impact on the developers of ingame vehicles when free virtual vehicles are being dumped onto the market? Think about it.

Posted by: Szentasha Salome on November 5, 2006 11:05 PM

Szentasha Salome,

That is a very important issue and while I may not have mentioned it here, I do understand that brands entering Second Life at this point are simply putting up billboards for the purposes, as you so correctly point out, to generate "real world" sales. They look at Second Life as more of a game rather that the real working community it has become. Hopefully, marketers will learn. Thanks for the comment.

Posted by: Steve Hall on November 6, 2006 8:54 AM

I think that what is interesting in Second Life is the opportunity to let the residents own the brands. And the best example is Starwoods Hotels who let people design their next hotel. They just give away control. I've posted a note on our social media blog about this,see:http://blogs.forrester.com/socialmedia/2006/11/second_life.html
On another hand, I do not think that advertising in SL will be welcomed by its residents and I can imagine Linden Lab is not going to let brands invade this world. However, as a resident myself, if I think about it, it would kind of fun to have access to RL products in SL - But is that possible without getting swamped by ads?

Posted by: Michele Bouquet on November 9, 2006 3:41 AM







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