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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Gallery of Marketing and PR in Second Life

I2m_secondlifelogo The virtual world has been getting a lot of coverage in the real world these days.  Second Life is becoming the new poster child for the rising popularity of avatars and virtual personalities that real people are taking on, and every day it seems there is a new development that causes those in marketing and media circles to issue another latest news bulletin, write a blog post, or move on the rise as tag candy.  As some have noted, Second Life and the concept of virtual worlds is not new.  This was an idea first explored in the dotcom days, but never really took off due perhaps to the limitations of PCs, and the lack of abilities for promotion.  Those barriers are gone as personal media allows word to travel farther and faster, and word has certainly spread about Second Life.  Adding even more credibility has been the ability for Linden Labs to continually partner and create new "firsts" for their virtual world.  A big win for credibility was the BusinessWeek cover story several months ago (not to mention the Second Lives documentary airing on television) - but beyond that, they have launched a steady stream of firsts efforts that has made it fun to watch, but tough to keep up with.  As a marketer, the news I tend to pay attention to are all the examples of the new marketing ideas that are coming from Second Life.  From my time observing over the last several months, here is a list of notable firsts marketing and PR efforts from Second Life that may serve useful for others trying to keep up (or catch up) with the rapid evolution of Second Life:

Corporate Virtual Hotel: Starwood's Aloft


Virtual Concert: Suzanne Vega's Queen and the Soldier


Virtual Retailer: American Apparel


Virtual Sports Event: Baseball's All Star Game


Virtual Ad Network: MetaAdverse


Virtual Movie Filmed on Location: Bells and Spurs


Virtual Newspaper: The Metaverse Messenger


Virtual NonProfit Campaign: Global Kids GK Island


UPDATE (08/23/06): Virtual Automaker: Scion (Via Reuben Steiger)


I am sure there are lots more firsts that I haven't included here, but it's a start.  Perhaps what Second Life really needs is a "Linden Book of Virtual Firsts" where a list of all these could be kept and edited by the group.  Sort of a Guiness Book of World Records for Second Lifers.  I'd certainly subscribe to the RSS feed for something like that ...

Note: Many Second Life residents commented that this list, which as originally positioned as "firsts" was inaccurate and left out much of the hard work of residents over the past three years before SL realized it's current media status.  To amend, I have changed the title of this post to reflect the fact that this is a collection of examples - but not necessarily "firsts."  Hopefully this gallery is still a useful resource for marketers interested in learning about some interesting efforts that have taken place in SL recently, however this should not be considered a true list of firsts.

Photo Credits: Most photos were taken from screens available online and link back to the source.  The Global Kids photo was taken from the Flickr collection from  Other sources for information and stories included AdverlabMicropersuasion, Second Life Insider, and New World Notes.


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» [Press] A Gallery of Virtual 'Firsts' from Second Life from Global Kids' Digital Media Initiative
Global Kids Camp GK was touted in a recent blog post entitled, "A Gallery of Virtual 'Firsts' from Second Life." It was posted by Rohit Bhargava, a Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Ogilvy Public Relations, on his blog Influential... [Read More]




Hiya Rohit!

The Second Life History Wiki--our first Resident-run historical resource!--has a Second Life Firsts category you may be interested in:

As such, it's also definitely worthwhile to note the firsts that have no offline precedent, since Second Life is unique this way.

Nice pictures in the article too. Thanx for writing about Second Life! :D

Thanks for sharing this great resource! I'd love to see a category added for "Corporate/Marketing" firsts. I will contact Oz directly about it, but it would be interesting to get your perspective (as well as other Second Life community members) on how firsts in this category might be viewed in comparison to firsts in categories like scripting, building or avatars. Does a category like this belong in the Second Life History Wiki?

You could contact Oz but as long as your wiki account is traceable to a Second Life account you can edit the wiki to add that category yourself.

Hey Rohit, you missed my series from the SL Convention. Some good info there as well.

Hi Rohit,

You might want to clarify your category of "firsts" on our site, as several people have interpreted your list as "ultimate firsts". I don't think they are aware that your list is in the context of "corporate marketing".

Here is the link to your story on our site:


We're aware of the corporate context I think, but it's a matter of how that tramples the Long Tail aspect. These are significant events, true, it's important to think about the big picture--- those indie people are seeing direct sales as a result, in fact, the barrier to entry is low, that the return is higher. How much did this Firsts have to pay contrasted with the return to make it truly a first.

Indies, the long tail, and the forgotten ones are the people and things easy to forget because breaking into that monetization opp. That drives folks like Ogilvy (who I LOVE,btw) insane.

Thanks for your comments and your reminder about not forgetting the long tail. I suspected when I wrote this that some of these "firsts" might not actually be the first as there is already a vibrant community in Second Life and of course there have been music concerts and hotels and banks already launched. To clarify, the intention of the post is to illustrate several corporate firsts for my audience of marketing and advertising folks to demonstrate the wider appeal Second Life is starting to have. My apologies if I missed some events or offended current residents who have been doing thins like virtual concerts and launching stores already. However, for many mainstream marketers - hopefully this post will be a useful collection of corporate "real world" brands that have entered Second Life. Regardless, I have just added a clarification to the post to make this point as well.

Nice work with this recap!

I think that advertising in Second Life is very interesting, and opens up many possibilites for marketing. I wrote about Second Life in my own blog:

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