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Monday, August 06, 2007


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Patch Lamington

Surprised this hasn't drawn any comment!

If marketing/advertising is not allowed in the Welcome Areas then the rule should be adhered to... allowing exceptions on the basis that the staff were polite and gave out good freebies really just opens it up for a whole load more brand-name freebie givers clogging up the WAs

As soon as I can get some time free, I'll get down to a WA and help out some new residents while sporting a fetching box above my head proclaiming "Buy UBIK! The wonder-spray - gives salads that super-zing" or somesuch.


I, too, am surprised this important post hasn't drawn a lot of comment. It's a vital topic and one that we all should be contemplating for the future. Too bad Patch and Valleywag could only think to be negative nitpickers.

Some of this reminds me of late-20th century purists whimpering about commercializing the Web. I think most people by now have come to realize that was a boon to society.

I agree in general with Joni Rich's thinking about SL, although I suppose there are some things I might have put differently.

She is correct that bells-n-whistles lovers have been the movers and shakers here. Now we need people with a variety of RL professional experiences beyond the IT industry to step up and start blowing some steering currents. People with real experience should start exerting some virtual energy. I suppose the reason they have not flexed their real muscles yet is this is all so new. They probably are just feeling their way along for now, starting with one or another little business to see how it goes for them on a personal level.

This makes Joni a pioneer at the executive level. Her early leadership is invaluable.

--Stone Semyorka

Timbo Urbanowicz

We did the same campaign for Hollands biggest outdoor Festival called 'Lowlands'.
We created a unique very funny tiny avatar, which is daily promoting and giving away nice Lowlands goodies.

You can see the results on :


Residents are very positive about this and they all love the tiny avatar. That's the key to this succes, create a wierd avatar. Be remarkable.

Timbo Urbanowicz

Working link of the tiny avatar


The balance of what marketing is or has been against what can happen when people get to interact with others requires a bit of a change in thought processes.
I think it is not so much reaching everyone with a billboard and a percentage then go on to purchase products or services. It is more about people being able to be involved in the conversation about the product or service and have a more in depth buying experience.
There is room for both in the world, real and virtual.
Take car buying, people enagage with the process in all sorts of ways. They may see tv adverts, develop a brand awareness in mass marketing, motor sport etc. They may watch TV shows or read magazines. At some point though they will engage in a 1:1 conversation with a dealer in a showroom, gaining personal attention and information.
Every car dealership I have ever been in has at most 10 customers in teh showroom. They are probably good prospects as they have shown up and presented themselves. They are engaging both with the product and with representatives of the company
There would appear to be a blurring of the lines here with virtual worlds. Not the test drive of the real car, but the willingness to engage in a conversation with someone.
This may not suit every product or service, but it would appear to be of value as indicated in this piece.

Patch Lamington

It sounds like a great campaign, and very successful. I have no problems with that - I am not "whimpering about commercializing" Second Life. Rather I'm objecting to rather obvious flouting of existing rules.

To quote the article "they promoted the movie in the Lindens' Welcome Area, where advertising is generally banned"

If advertising is banned in the Welcome Area, then presumably there is a reason for that... and there should be common rules for all.

Whether the rule is "No advertising period" or "Advertising allowed as long as you are polite and have good swag to give away" is OK with me, but whatever it is should be uniformly applied.


Patch, I thihk you are right, the behaviour of the buzz team created by the Second Marketing clearly violates the netiquette of the newbie area; maybe, the problem is that there isn't an authority in SL that coarges with the task of appply the rules.
For converse, I also found this post quite exciting about marketing insights that can be derived from. Companies that leaves SL has always been a sad history of (virtual) white elephants. Empty stores, empty locations, avatars that don't arrive and, if they do, they go away after a little time. But, for God's Sake, why someone would be pleased to stay into a place where there is nothing to do? Why there is not a staff inside a store? Engagement is difficult to obtain, if you don't be propositive. And sitting and waiting for a crowd isn't propositive. Absolutely. In the end, there is at least one marketer that has a different point of view, which understands how SL can be a wonderful platform for starting a VIRAL marketing compaign!
On the other side, it should be noted that(and this is dedicated to the most skeptical SL critics) creating and paying a team of buzz embassadors is cheap respect to building-based marketing efforts; moreover, it recognizes at last that we are speaking of a job, exactly as Public Relations in the real world. Too many companies think that when their employees go on SL, this is just "free-time"!!

Forseti Svarog

I am curious to know what level of engagement actually took place to be counted as an engagement, but in the end I am glad they feel like it was a successful effort. Efforts like this help move the conversation past the oversimplifying obsession around "destination" builds that exists in the media and market.

Nissan's ad agency did something like this on a small scale for the Sentra effort by sending a character from the TV ads (a blinking piece of toast) all around Second Life. I don't think we ever counted the number of avatars though, just the number of virtual cars that people have voluntarily picked up (about 50,000 now I think).

There certainly have been a lot of poor projects in SL, or in many cases, projects that met their objectives but were left to linger and stagnate but the author's potshots are actually misplaced and ignorant. However, it's too big a topic to get into here.

Buzz marketing has a place in SL just as it can be effective in RL, but I still think that one needs to tread carefully so that it does not become spam and a form of marketing griefing. Invading Welcome Areas troubles me, personally.

Of course, if you want to see a really incredible buzz and mobilization campaign in SL, American Cancer Society's Relay for Life is still tops in my book.

Joni West

I thank everyone for their comments about this story. I am the president of This Second Marketing LLC and we are the agency that did the IMAX Harry Potter promotion discussed above. I would like to address the concerns I hear about giving away free promotional items, "Swag" in the areas where there are newbies. First, this is NOT the only place we put our Buzz Agent Teams, but that said, we keep our presence and standards to a very high mark. If you read about the fact that most people who sign up for SL drop out after the first visit or 2, and dig deeper into that, you find that one of the main problems is that people do not know where to go to start living a Second Life. I know this was true for me and for dozens of others that I personally have discussed this with. There are even websites that talk about where you should go when you get into SL because people just can't figure it out. If a newbie is educated enough to use the search tool, which I personally was not in the beginning, they try to go to the popular places and don't realize that the lag is not something they are doing wrong or the norm for SL. People are VERY happy to engage in coversation with friendly avatars who immediately represent themselves as being "Out promoting fill-in-the-blank" and offer free items that would be of value to a newbie as well as landmarks to places to go right away. Our Buzz Agents answer questions for newbies the same way they do when they are on their volunteering time at these places. We do NOT allow our clients to slap a real world type ad in the newbie areas or ANY area of SL. WE think or our Buzz Teams more like the old Welcome Wagon that would visit people when they moved into a new home. They gave out all kinds of advertisements and promotional coupons and items, and people were SO happy to receive these things because they were new in the neighborhood and having a promotional card for dry cleaner near then or could really use a map with the local hardware store highlighted. This is a WIN/WIN. We DON'T support erecting billoards and banner ads in SL, we are a catalyst for commuinity support and one-on-one discussions.

Personally, I would like to see fewer people focusing on negative aspects of SL and spending more time imagining the future of it and contributing to the virtual world...channeling their creative energy into to make it better. I am available for discussion at 415-776-4755
Joni West
SL Identity = Joni Rich

Big brands and companies are GREAT for the future of Second Life. People forget that the reason Soap Operas are called that is because P&G invented them as a marketing tool for selling soap to women who were home all day. Every piece of entertainment that we enjoy on TV is "brought to you by" a major marketer. We buy products and services from these companies and they sponsor the entertainment programs that we want to see. There is a balancing act when it comes to brand sponsorship and brands pushing the product in your face.

We believe we are adding value to Second Life with each and every project we do. We insist that our clients understand that they must add value to the grid and grow community around their brands and activities in a welcoming way. We will not allow a client to try to enter SL to take advantage of the commnunity and the buzz around all things SL.

Osprey Therian


If you are going to be in Second Life and wish to keep your "presence and standards to a very high mark" you might consider not breaking what, to me, are important rules.

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