It still surprises me how many people aren’t aware of Second Life (www.secondlife.com), an online world that is blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s pretend. And, more importantly, the power of this pretend world to impact the real one.
Players assume a make-believe “avatar” (your SL identity) that interacts in real time with other avatars in everything from nightclubs to retail stores. Within my first five minutes my character (and I) was speaking with two other avatars (whose real identities were from Mexico and Japan).
What is of interest to me as a PR professional is the ability for real organizations to test ideas and promote messages and products to the real people behind these fabricated identities.
Here are some examples of businesses already doing this: In the Reebok store you can buy a basic shoe template and customize it for your avatar. At American Apparel, in-store posters and clothing on display can be clicked on and you are directly linked to the AA website to order real clothing for yourself. The Telus store has a Motorola Q-a cell phone specifically designed for avatars. (Read more in Marketing Magazine at http://www.marketingmag.ca/magazine/current/opinion/article.jsp?content=20070212_68559_68559)
If I haven’t convinced you that this is a glimpse of what the not-so-distant marketing campaigns will look like, here is another fact: users spend almost US$1 million every day in the in-world currency, Linden dollars, which they buy using real U.S. greenbacks (US$1 = L$266). And they generate most of the content, designing then selling or trading their creations—anything from furniture to high fashion. What's more, they own the intellectual property rights, according to Canadian Business. http://www.canadianbusiness.com/entrepreneur/sales_marketing/article.jsp?content=20070212_142819_4792
Just when the marketing profession thought this world was covered we found another to conquer!