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.
Dear Bob Parsons,
While your infatuation with Candice Michelle is clearly understood, your infatuation with placing her in commercial after commercial is not. We'd be more likely to understand that infatuation if the commercials were actually any good but with each new addition to the collection, the commercials slip further down the hill towards uninteresting mediocrity. It was funny once when Candice couldn't keep her top on. It was mildly funny when she rubbed her boobs against the window while on that window washing scaffolding. But it's hardly funny at all to watch her run through sprinklers across a golf course while an old dude gawks "Oh, the GoDaddy Girl!" Some amount of interests in the spot might occur if Candice's water-soaked breasts actually moved in a manner resembling human physiology rather than that of a plastic surgeon's creation.
That said, the spots wouldn't be any better if Candice were flat or a natural 36DDD. Since the original Super Bowl spot, Bob, an important thing called creativity seems to have eluded you. No doubt Candice is a wonderful person but it's time to move on. The gimmick is dead. It's time to leave the whole bimbo routine behind. Perhaps, with your new GoDaddy Girl, Danica Patrick, the obsession with big, fake breasts will wane. Now, if you want to feature yet another GoDaddy Girl who sports big breasts that actually move while in motion, we might not be so critical. Oh but wait, then we'd simply be perpetuating the stereotype of casting women as objects of desire. We'd never want to do that, right, Bob?
So, Bob, it's really time to move on. It's time for a new approach. Time stop the ogling, the breaking tank top straps, the wet t-shirt runs, the bimbo maneuvers. Oh fuck it. Just go out and build a stable to GoDaddy Girls rivaling the collection of Maxim Girls and you and your business will be gold.
Equally Breast Obsessed,
When we as an industry set out to create a beautiful ad, we tend to sometimes let our creativity and this thing called Photoshop run amock. Clearly demonstrating this penchant and fixation for beautifying everything in our path is this Dove commercial - created by Ogilvy Toronto and produced by Reginald Pike - in which an average looking woman is, first, subjected to intense physical makeover and then intense digital makeover turning her into the very familiar but very unreal woman we see gracing the pages of magazines and as subject matter for our advertising.
The discourse about ethics in advertising is getting picked up by people who'd like to help draw out that imaginary red line in a way that doesn't sound so whiny. Under the premise that society (and not just irate marketing bloggers) can now contribute to media messages, After These Messages does for the opinionated audience what Yelp did for hipsters who get their kicks bitching out posh restaurants. You log in, post an ad and then - get this - scale its ethical weight and relevance. The gauge includes questions like the following: If you created it, would you sleep well at night? Does it contribute to society? Will it bring good karma? Is it an effective piece of communication?
While everyone now walks past these over-sexed billboards shot as if a porn flick but designed by some European fashionista, they're still jarring. Or at least they are to us as we pass them by especially since the product being sold is just some over-priced, over-branded previously created concoction with just an ingredient or two changed and a new name slapped on it.
While George Parker doesn't like the new Eat Like A Snake Commercial for the new Burger King Triple Whopper, we think there was no other possible way to promote a fatburger than with a freaky commercial like this. Atfer all, who in their right mind would want to suck down this 1,000 calorie plus, four inch high burger than a snake? Oh wait, that McDonald's fat kid would love this thing and could probably suck it down in one bite too.
But anyway, Ariel's right when she says "Burger King has successfully spent the last few years integrating itself with pop culture. Nay... BK IS part of pop culture. Unlike the majority of companies...BK refuses to merely be a reaction of what is already taking place. They choose to create the reaction, and fairly intelligently." It's perhaps true the wackiness of all recent Burger King advertising is simply aimed more at creating an odd brand persona than actually trying to sell a burger. But, given the upcoming generation's hatred of "being sold," the odd approach Burger King is taking seems to be an appropriate one.
Europe loves futbol. America love football. Both games bring out competitive spirit and national patriotism. After viewing NBC's airing of Friday Night Lights, we feel we have to say never before has a TV show done such a wonderful job illustrating the love for and importance of a sport. A spin off of the 2004 Billy Bob Thornton movie of the same name based on H.G. Bissinger's book about the Odessa, Texas Permian High Panthers, the show brings to light small town America's love for the sport and the importance it plays in everyday life. While American soccer is alive an well on the fields of suburban America, that sport is unlikely to ever overtake the intensity of and love for good 'ol American football.
The Slug offers up a retrospective on this past Summer's inane Head On commercial and the media frenzy which ensued because of it. If you haven't seen the spot, it's the one that repeats, "Head On. Apply directly to the forehead," over and over and over but offers no actual statement as to what the product's purpose might be. Created completely without ironic insiderism, the commercial found itself the subject of many parodies, an MSNBC interview with Barbara Lippert in which she just won't shut up, coverage on NBC Nightly New with Brian Williams, again with Barbara Lippert, and, finally, a self-referential spoof created by the company itself. Still, no one knows what the hell the product is supposed to do. OK, yes, it's for headaches but they never say so. Witty.
As Brian Unger said on MSNBC, we shouldn't be surprised to hear "Bud, put it in your mouth" during the Super Bowl.
Add to the ever growing list of contextual fuckery this Pure Gum Spirits Turpentine ad which appeared directly next to a CNN story about a teen who drank turpentine to terminate her pregnancy. The kicker is the ads tagline, "Nature's Solvent." Yup, turpentine sure does make it easier to dissolve that fetus and make it really easy to slide right out into that trash can. Aside from the intellectually-challenged human idiocy that surrounds the use of these freakish remedies, the placement of this ad has to be the most freakish contextual placement fuck up to date. Can we possibly put an end to our own industry idiocy that causes these idiotic mistakes?
Al Pacino once said in Godfather III something to the effect of "As soon as I'm out, they pull me right back in." That's how we feel about this manufactured conspiracy theory we were going to ignore - originated in a MediaPost opinion piece by Eric Sass - that a new Lexus commercial somehow uses 9/11-like imagery. This is a waste of time. Everyone is reading waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into this. What...all ads shot in NYC that show the skyline will now be accused of treading inappropriately on 9/11? Please. Yea, there's two cars in the commercial. It's hardly as symmetrical as some claim nor in any way reminiscent of 9/11.
If you want to complain about an ad that reminds us of 9/11, why don't we look at the Cingular billboards with the two bars extending upward from the board. Those ads have been running for years. Sure 9/11 sucked. It always will suck. It will always a sad day in our history. But to think marketers are maliciously trying to make fun of 9/1 is just indicative we all have way too much time on our hands to analyze this crap.