Swivel Media's Erik Hauser offers us this column on his in-depth experience with Second Life, ahead of the curve work for Wells Fargo and his companies creation of Stagecoach Island a virtual reality world based on Second Life. He offers sage advice to marketers with Second Life on the brain.
Marketing to People in Their First Life
By Erik Hauser 10.25.06
I can vaguely recall the days when things were very different.
People spent their time in a world filled with oxygen. It seems just like yesterday - OH MY - it was yesterday! Let's take a trip down memory lane shall we? The date is Jan 1st 1997, and people are starting to spend some time on this thing called the internet. Within a couple of years there was a hyper-saturated web with niche sites that had everything from exclusive glues to websites designed as destination locations for people in their mid 30's that had an affinity for poodles. Certain people claimed they would never leave the house again, and vowed to radically change their behavior.
In what could be a masterful viral approach to growing a business that goes far beyond viral marketing, Microsoft is embedding viral expansion into its new iPod competitor, Zune. Users of the Zune MP3 player can send songs to friends over the devices Wifi who have three days to listen to them before they disable. If the recipient of the song decides to buy the song within the three day period, the sender of the song will receive a portion of the song's purchase price in the form of credits to be used towards purchasing music and other items from the Zune Marketplace.
Currently, it's a rumor and it would certainly be difficult to topple iPod from its reigning position but the approach is indicative of what many brands should be doing to grow their business beyond just traditional advertising tonnage. And yea, yea, yea, the whole referral thing has been done since cavemen traded rocks but this is high profile and it will be intresting to see if it works.
CoolzOr has put together an in-depth review of the many brands who've stepped in Second Life and the tremendous growth the virtual reality world is experiencing. CoollzOr walks us through the Second Life presence of brands such as Adidas, Reebok, American Apparel, Sun Microsystems, Toyota, IBM, Starwood Hotels and Nissan. Each has created an interesting virtual representation of themselves and, predictably, not without some complaint from SL residents.
Ad agencies have jumped into the world as well including Leo Burnett, BBH and the new social media agency Crayon which will open tomorrow.
If you're interested in keeping with what's happening in Second Life, Reuters has set up shop and provides news about the world. Preceding Reuters' coverage of Second Life is The Second Life Herald which is filled with all sorts of SL activity. CNET is there too.
Second Life has been around since 1999 but has only recently caught on with marketers and, for that matter, the general public having just netted it's one millionth resident a few days ago. In an odd way, this feels like the old AOL when it passed its one million mark. If you missed out on that ride, now's your chance not to miss this one.
If you've ever wondered why anyone would sit in front of a webcam, talk randomly about almost nothing and then upload it to YouTube for all to see, dive deep into the world of social media with this video about the whole trend. Sure, there's a bunch of wackos out there and most of the stuff is irrelevant but that's not the point. The point is, styles of personal conversation are changing and there's no going back. I once had an art director ask me to stop sending him emails because the notification of arriving emails distracted him from his work. Can you imagine a world without email? Perhaps there will be a day when we can't imagine a world without this new form of video communication.
After having dissed the whole Diet Coke Mentos geyser thing saying the "craziness with Mentos doesn't fit with the brand personality" then giving in and quickly implementing a lame contest, Coke is now back in full force with Poetry in Motion, a video contest fronted by the very people Coke dissed in the first place, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, creators of one of the craziest Diet Coke/Mentos geyser videos. The two now appear in a video urging people to submit videos and teasing us with the fact the pair will release their latest video October 30, sure to be even more massive than their original geyser work
Fans of YouTube may not have to worry about their baby getting sucked up into the Google void and corporatized because now we have PhilTube. Some dude named Phil has created a YouTube look alike and has videos up that poke fun at popular videos such as the Star Wars Kid and LonelyGirl15. Of course, this isn't the next YouTube at all. It's the creation of Phil McIntyre to parody YouTube, poke fun at social media and to promote PGM Artists, his company that represents production companies to agencies and media companies.
If you didn't know who Phil McIntyre or PGM were, you'd have to do a bit of digging to see what PhilTube is all about but as promotions go, we applaud it. There's no fist bumping here - although, perhaps PhilTube should spoof the Agency.com video - and the content is amusing enough. We're told Hart+Larsson is behind he creative on this one.
GM's Pontiac division is the next mainstream company to join the one million strong Second Life community with the creation of the soon to be launched Motorati Island where residents can engage all kinds of automotive-related projects such as the construction of racetracks and dealerships where the Pontiac Solstice will be on display.
Just like a weblog, Second Life is becoming the marketing tactic du jour for many marketers. Unlike a weblog, brand activity in Second Life may actually generate sales for brands since, in essence, it's an actual, psuedo-real world with currency that changes hands. We're not sure someone's going to actually buy a car in Second Life for their first life yet but it won't be long before that happens. Second Life could very well become the replacement for that dreaded online "service" brands provide their customers called customer service. While brands' rush to blogging and podcasting didn't seem to net much in the way of revenue, Second Life's focus on commerce, just might become a practical and profitable market for all involved.
Joe Jaffe of Life After the 30-Second Spot and Across the Sound fame has launched a new marketing company icalled Crayon which will make its debut inside Second Life this Thursday. The company intends to be a bit different than your typical marketing firm focusing on social media and the tenets Jaffe set forth in his book. Joining with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson from For Immediate Release and CC Chapman from Accident Hash and Managing the Gray, Jaffe will dive head first into the world of conversational marketing and his belief that companies which refuse to believe marketing is a conversation rather than a one way information dump are doomed to die.
In yet another version of the eBay forehead/pregnant belly advertising thing, the very cute Leah Culver is asking for donations to retire her six year old G3 iMac and buy new MacBook Pro. In return, she promises to etch the names/brands of those who donate onto her new laptop for all to see in the San Francisco area for as long as the new computer lasts. She's already raised $2,687.44 which would appear to be enough to buy the MacBook but she's still selling adspace. Leah, tell us when you sell out, buy the computer and design the laptop cover. We'd love to see it. (Photo by Tantek)
This sounds fake, looks fake, feels fake an probably is fake. Hopefully, it's not another Agency.com Subway video disaster in the making. Posted in the Adrants forum and on YouTube is a video taken, apparently, by a client's cell phone camera which shows the agency bashing the client while she was out of the room (she left her camera phone on as she left). The text of the conversation, which you can read here on a blog called The Disgruntled Client seemingly set up simply to trash this client's agency, seems contrived and fake.
Some Adrants forum members have doubted the purity of this video and the blog surmising it to be just another poor attempt by an oh-so-cool agency to promote themselves using attempts at social media wit. We've sent an inquiry to the blog's owner for clarification but have not yet received a reply. We're leaning toward fake but we'll report back any information, if any, we receive from The Disgruntled Client.