Iris Rants: Advertising Your Second Life Event Without Second Life Images Sends A Bad Message
One of my biggest pet peeves in the world of metaverse fashion is when event organizers choose to advertise their Second Life event without any Second Life imagery. Sometimes they'll use stock photos, sometimes they'll use clip art, sometimes it's beautiful artwork like the picture above. This picture certainly seems thematically appropriate, but it just doesn't get the job done as well as a picture of the actual event or any of the items that will actually be there would. Here's why:
First of all, these ads don't tell me much about the event. This particular example tells me what it's called and when it is, and I guess what the theme is, but beyond that there's no indication of who or what will be found there. I was actually rather surprised when I took a look at some of the items that will be available-- gorean pasties, medieval bucklers, and chair bondage sets are not exactly the kinds of things I would associate with a fantasy Halloween carnival, and the image chosen for the ad only reinforced those expectations. So right off the bat, it's unhelpful.
Generally speaking, using images that don't have anything to do with your location, your participants, or the items that will be available there is an easy way to produce advertising and spread the word before any of those things are even close to being ready... But that's always the first thing I see when this kind of ad is presented. This is the dirty secret behind most events in SL, but it's certainly not something you want to reflect in your ad. You want to look coordinated and prepared, and you want to give potential customers a good idea of what they can expect. There isn't enough stock art in the world to do that for you.
What's the best way to get around this? Plan ahead. The best thing you can do is make an arrangement with either one of the participating designers or the person who will be building the space, to have one item or one section done a few weeks in advance for promotional purposes. It's a particularly good deal for the designer, because it will immediately single that item out and make people associate it with the event, which could easily boost their sales.
But there's another problem with SL ads using non-SL pictures that needs to be addressed: They frequently use someone else's work without their permission. Note that I'm not saying this is the case with the Fantasy Gacha Carnival, but speaking in terms of broader trends. There have been countless examples of event organizers doing a quick Google Image Search and picking their ad's base image from among the results. Flagrantly ignoring copyright isn't going to earn you many customers, or friends. It's just not worth it, and you will almost inevitably be called out, since reverse Google image searches are incredibly easy and take less than a second to execute. Copyright is a very sensitive issue in SL, and if the organizers of an event don't respect it, it not only reflects poorly on them, but also on the event and even its participants.
So just... Stop. Stop it. Please. The whole point of these things is to show me precisely why I should visit your event, not why I should Google the same thing you did to get myself a new desktop wallpaper.
That's my take, but what's yours? Do you think these kinds of event promos aren't a big deal, or do they get under your skin, too? Let me know in the comments!
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.