Branding and PR in Second Life

There are many ways to create a presence for your brand. Two interesting ones in Second Life:

Vodafone’s “Water Cooler”. Rather than push Vodafone’s business or products, this setting engages residents to interact witheach other and the puzzles and activities provided by the “water cooler” -to simulate the engaged conversations that happen in RL around the ‘water cooler.’

Location & SLURL: Vodafone 4, 213, 167:

Pontiac created a special place for car buffs that encourages them to display their creativity by offering accessories, customizationand services for cars. If you ever wanted to open a chop shop or do custom pin-striping, now you can!

Location & SLURL: Pontiac 128, 127, 20:

Neither of these companies are selling product in or through Second Life. They’re trying to connect with residents and build a community and interaction around their brand attributes.

Another use of Second Life is to provide exhibits and to share information.

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario provides an exhibit with information about Alzheimer’s. The exhibits are interactive -clicking on a photo brings up information about that aspect of Alzheimer’s and points people to related resources.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has a presence in Second Life and is using it to raise community awareness of health issues and to expand their vehicles for communicating. They’ve created a Health Fair as a first step in using SL as a communication channel.

Reuters has a news bureau in Second Life with a full-time reporter. Articles from Second Life are carried by Reuters just like those from other locations. In addition, Reuters provides several news services in Second Life – an RSS feed from Real-world news that appears as a ticker on your Second Life screen, as well as other information and video available in their Second Life headquarters.

Location & SLURL: Alzheimer Society of Ontario – Info Island II 39, 61, 26:

Location & SLURL: Reuters: Reuters 125, 104, 25:

Let’s be clear up front. You won’t get rich selling your product in Second Life– yet. Especially if it’s something that isn’t really necessary in Second Life – like food! Second Life today is not large enough, or the audience mature enough to create a large enough audience for any particular brand or product; and in SL, everything is pretty inexpensive compared to the real world – $100 shoes aren’t unheard of in RL, but that’s a pretty pricy pair in L$!

Residents have been successful – some of them – by a combination of starting small, building word-of-mouth, finding high-traffic areas, and promoting and advertising their products. Few outside businesses have committed to the effort and time required to create that kind of visibility for themselves in Second Life.

Location & SLURL: Nite’N’Day Clothes, Couture Isle 142, 125, 48:

Buying real-world goods from SL is an interesting opportunity. The scripting language built into Second Life enables you to interactwith web pages. Shopping in Second Life has aspects of both real world and web – you can interact socially, like in the real world, but you have the reach and choice of the web.

Dell has created a factory where you can configure an SL Dell computer you can have – and, at the click of a button, that information is sent to the Dell configuration web page, so with a few clicks you can buy the computer you just configured in RL fromDell’s website.

Location & SLURL: Dell Island 152, 95, 25:

(note you have to fly to the Factory, which is behind and to the left of the main Dell center on a separate space; they’ve prohibited teleporting there.)

Several businesses in SL have used the Amazon Web Services to enable you to search Amazon from within SL, select an item, add it to your shopping cart, and check out. When you do, the Amazon checkout webpage opens and you can complete your purchase. (Besides Life2Life, there’s Second411 and Jnana; all have a different way of interacting with Amazon Web Services, butthe net result is the same.)

Location & SLURL: Life2Life, Blackje (31, 194, 103):

American Apparel links the posters over the clothes racks in their Second Life store to their real-world web site to purchase the item.

American Apparel was the first major company to use presence in Second Life to generate real-world PR to enhance their brand and visibility. Many others followed, including Duran Duran and Reuters. Over time, this strategy has diminished in effectiveness, and enough “first (insert your market here)” have been announced that it’s hard to have a genuine first anymore, and the press has lost some interest in Second Life launch stories. However, PR can still be an effective component of your overall presence in Second Life.

American Apparel also provides links from store posters to their real-world website to purchase clothing, and also sells SL versions of some of their clothing.

Location & SLURL: American Apparel – Lerappa151, 63, 26:

Duran Duran made a huge splash in summer 2006 with their announcement of a Second Life presence, that got them more press coverage than they’d had in the prior year. At this time, they no longer have a presence or location in Second Life.

Presence in Second Life still has some value as part of a broad PR strategy, either as part of a broader customer outreach story, or as an opportunity to provide a unique set of services.

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