Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Early Homeys: Red Bull, Diesel

Sony tried to drive home for christmas and released the long awaited PS3 Home last week (blogged here) and it will be interesting to see it develop. Unfortunately I don't have a Playstation 3, so I won't be able to keep you folks up to date on business in Home first hand, but already a number of articles are appearing on brands in Home.

Red Bull

First to boost out of the gates was Red Bull, who had a shortlived experience in Second Life, but probably did find it a waste of energy, or a mismatch with their objectives. To be honest, gutfeeling says they fit better at Home.

Red Bull was inspired by an energy drink from Thailand called Krating Daeng. Red Bull is the literal translation of Krating Daeng in Thai. (Krating = Bull, Dang = Red) The logo of redbull is even the same as logo of Krating Daeng. Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur developed the Red Bull Energy Drink brand. [Wikipedia].

Red Bull is more suited to Home than Second Life as it is a more logical step for gamers, and Red Bull brings its famous Air Race as a playable game to their Home room.

(Red Bull screenshot from Kotaku)

Massively Sponsored.

It was to be expected that Home would be subject to all sorts of sponsoring, but as Luke Plunkett rightly says at Kotaku:

We always knew Home was going to be heavy on advertising and corporate sponsorship. But this heavy this soon? It's a little unexpected.

Even the December 10 press release announcing Home to finally open it's door had its commercial break:

SCEE today also announced the first partnerships with some of the world’s most respected lifestyle brands for the Open Beta. Fashion leader Diesel, contemporary furniture designers Ligne Roset, energy drink Red Bull, film studio Paramount Pictures and video content providers Hexus TV and Eurogamer are the first on board. They will offer resident’s virtual clothing for their avatar, virtual furniture for their PlayStation Home apartments, exclusive video content and a virtual flying challenge: the Red Bull Air Race.

I'll try to do some more blogposts on these shops. Speeding up things would of course be one offering me a sponsored PS3 to explore myself or find another guest blogger.

(Diesel screenshot from Kotaku)

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Canada Post delivers (part 1)

Just like airliners in Second Life (see Brussels Airlines and Air France - KLM) a mail company in Second Life could be seen as a 2008 Metaverse Oddity, for surely, you don't need a mailman in a virtual world like this. If you buy virtual goods, they don't need to be delivered as they appear in your inventory immediately and can be rezzed anywhere you like. You don't need a mailman either to deliver your postcards to the ones you love, as Second Life has a built-in service which delivers your snapshots through email. Yet Canada Post isn't the odd one out in Second Life.

Canada Post Corporation (French: Société canadienne des postes) is the Canadian postal operator operated as a crown corporation. The Post Office Department of the Government of Canada was founded in 1867 and was rebranded Canada Post in the late 1960s though it officially remained the Post Office Department until October 16, 1981 when the Canada Post Corporation Act came into force. The Act set a new direction for the postal service, creating more reliable service and ensuring the postal service's financial security and independence. [Wikipedia]

Or maybe it is, in a positive way. The Canada Post presence in Second Life is one of the second wave corporations to explore the metaverse, and like the German Volksbank, they have a different approach to things than most of the first wave explorers had. Like the Volksbank they don't have a dedicated sim which is destined to lay bare once the 'grand opening festivities' are over, they bring a variety of shops on their sim.

The Canadian Post venture is called "Maple Grove" but won't be found on the island called maplegrove but on one called Solar. The sim is a heavily built urban sim which makes it rather slow to render, especially if you use 'ultra detail' settings like me to take some nice pictures for you folks. Once immersed at the center of the sim you'll find yourself amidst a variety of builds, one of which, obviously is the Canadian Post postoffice.

Aside from the Canadian Post shop you'll find a variety of retailers which are Canadian Post's 2008 retail partners, i.e. they ship their real life products with Canadian Post. The notecard you can pick up in front of the postoffice gives a good overview on what you can find on the sim:

Welcome to Canada Post's Maple Grove!

Canada Post is proud to showcase its 2008 partner retailers. Explore Maple Grove and discover the largest collection of real-life retailers sharing one sim in Second Life.

In the city centre, you can visit Toys R Us, Sky Mall, The Shopping Channel and Canada Post. New this year, we are introducing the Bright Spark Lab. The Lab is a virtual marketing agency designed to assist Second Life entrepreneurs. You will find free tools to make you Second Life business more successful. You will also find valuable information for creating a direct mail campaign in real life!

On Maple Street, we have a busy schedule of live music events at the Telus Theater. Be sure to check out Brookstone and Red Canoe. Don't forget to stop in the Green Cafe which has information about keeping your mail "green". Blackberry Lane is home to Sears and the Canada Post garage where you can get your own free mail truck.

On Hudson Avenue, you will find the Everything Olive store next to the Tower.

Thank you for visiting Maple Grove and be sure to leave us some feedback at the Canada Post office in the city centre.

I won't go into a detailed description of these companies in this post, that will have to wait untill later, but here's a few piccies to get an idea of the entire build

Most shops present on the sim put on a showcase of a number of items you can buy in their webshops and have the items delivered to you by Canada Post at home in the real world. I think this type of presence will work better than a sim dedicated to one brand only, as it kind of works like the old fashioned way: You go downtown to visit one store, you walk past another one and walk in on impulse.

I can understand Canadian Post offering this selection of shops, as they are real world partners in shipping, but I wonder how many virtual shoppers this particular combination will draw. Perhaps it would have been better to mix the real life companies with popular inworld shops.

There is a downside to this type of presence though, as it is quite a heavy urban build, it is very slow to render if you use a higher graphics setting. I don't think you can blame Canadian Post for this, but rather an unavoidable feat if you're working in Second Life. If corporations slowly start to work out their act in the Metaverse and start doing sensible business, companies and customers alike would like (and rightly so) a better performance from MSP's (Metaverse Service Providers) like Second Life. If performance can't be boosted to have a decent shopping experience, then maybe Second Life isn't the place to be for shops.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Solar/120/134/81


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Best Buy Bailout

Last week I blogged the closure of the popular Second Life magazine "The Avastar," which in its heydays was a good source of information when it came to providing info on new companies entering Second Life. Currently they're running a review on the top stories of 2008, but I'd like to pick out a small article on a company in Second Life which they ran back in august and which I totally missed.


Geek Squad Island closes
By: Jaager Himmel

GEEK Squad Island, which has helped thousands of residents with technical computer help, has been forced shut down by its RL owner, says one disappointed staff member. The island is set to close on September 7 after owners Best Buy continually refused permission for it to be properly promoted, according to the source who wishes to remain anonymous.

He told The AvaStar that he had been encouraging Best Buy to let him hold events such as computer training classes and technology seminars to boost traffic flow but was rebuffed at every attempt. He continued to try to promote the island by hosting events without telling Best Buy, and by working with other tech companies in SL.

Corporate ignorance

Best Buy ordered him to stop all further events, and hand over all contacts he had made with other companies. The anonymous staff member said: "It's a failure of corporate vision on the part of Best Buy." He added that, like many other firms in 2007, "they jumped into SL without any forethought". He cited a lack of basic understanding of how things work in SL as the main reason Best Buy has failed in its virtual venture: "Corporate ignorance of the ways of the grid lead to another untimely death of an island."

The question is, did I really miss it? Probably not. Still I'd like to put it up for sake of completeness as I've been trying to track all real life companies immersing in Second Life in the past year and a half.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pure Magic at 7Days

Yesterday Second Life saw the official opening of the 7 Days Magic Bakery, which I visited with high expectations, mostly because Aleister Kronos already blogged this build and wrote:

"I have to say that I think the build quality and approach knock just about every other corporate build into a cocked hat. In large part this is due to the decision by involve3d, the builders, to execute most of the build work outside of Second Life, using Maya. The resulting structures and textures were then uploaded for final placement in the sim. The result is a spectacularly successful marriage of forms and detailed textures - which is my pretentious way of saying: it looks great!"

7Days is one of the brands of Greek Vivartia, a foodconglomerate, which mainly produces packaged dough foods.

The Vivartia Bakery and Confectionery Division (following the absorption of Chipita International S.A.) is active in the production and distribution of standardized foods principally with a flour base. Since the establishment of Chipita in 1973, the Division has experienced steady development with particularly successful products both on the Greek and international markets. Always maintaining faith in quality and constant innovation, the Bakery and Confectionery Division of Vivartia has developed strong market labels such as 7Days, Bake Rolls, Molto & Finetti, which consumers trust on a daily basis.

State-of-the-art technology, constant support and the company’s vision for development all contribute to the dominant position held in all markets where we are active. Beginning with the individually packed croissant in 1990, constant research and development, the company improved and broadened the range of dough based products. Innovative ideas have led to new products such as mini croissants, strudels, tsoureki (brioche) and many others.Aside from sweet snacks, however, savory snacks also constitute an important part of the Division’s line with leading products such as Bake Rolls and Pita Bakes. Finally, the Division is active in the realm of chocolate products and produces the savory snacks par excellence – potato chips and cheese puffs. [Vivartia website]

As I said, the official opening was not ontil yesterday, when at 10 p.m. they hit off with a spectacular launchparty. It's been a while since I've seen a launchparty by a corporate build in Second Life. This alone makes the sim noteworthy. At this point in (media) time most companies flee media attention when it comes to their Second Life presence, either because their presence will justly be criticized as they don't know what they're doing in Second Life, or because the media still does not understand the values of the virtual world. Last month I blogged about CIGNA, an insurance company, with a highly succesfull presence in Second Life, and this is indeed another corporate gem, ready to go into the Best Practises for Companies textbook for Virtual Worlds.

So much for the introduction, let's immerse ourselves in this experience and see what all the fuzz is about. Upon teleporting in I receive a neat Landmark introducing the sim:

"Come play with your food! Meet rebellious robots and maestro bakers! Design, eat and trade your own custom pasties! A rich, whimsical bakery theme park … there's lots to do!"

And indeed, a whole town surrounds the bakery. After landing and walking through the entrance we meet Chef Vivardi on the first corner to start of the background narrative.

Next to the Chef you'll see a small sign. When clicked, the narrative starts. You'll find these points of interaction throughout the sim.

Chef Vivardi comes to life here whose job it is to supply the world with wholesome foods. Without taking any mystery out of your tour, the narrative of the brand – wholesome snacks to fit modern lifestyles – is present without dominating. Most importantly it forms the starting point of the 3D story, framing the entertainment, social aspects and interaction. There are rebellious robots, undeniably adorable machines all around, media textures that add life, and movie-quality voice-overs and music. In my opinion the music just totally makes it all come together. [Linda Zimmerman at Business Communicators of Second Life]

Moving on to the terrace

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the sim is the snack factory, towering above the surrounding village at the center of the sim.

Inside the factory you can take place at the production line an produce your own 7Days snack. Start with choosing your flavour, then color, topping, packaging and mood and be on your way with a customized snack. The production line is an excellent piece of scripting.

The idea of depicting a production line in Second Life isn't new, see for instance the blogpost "Second Life Yummy Garden" in which I describe how Ben & Jerry's did about the same over a year ago, which also was a big success in my opinion. Anyway, there's lot's more to see. This is a highly recommended sim. Enjoy your travels.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/7Days%20Magic%20Bakery/182/116/45/?title=7Days%20Magic%20Baker

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Monday, March 24, 2008

vBusiness Expo - April 2008

It's been a couple of months since I heard the first plans from Clever Zebra to organise yet another vw conference and expo. Here's the first announcement:

The vBusiness Central project in Second Life will launch in April with a 4 day Expo, to be held bi-yearly in April and October (which coincides with the Virtual World Conference).

The conference aims to cover 4 key areas:

We'll be announcing dates and details very shortly. If you want to keep up with developments, including other Clever Zebra events and product updates then join our email list to be first with the news.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Updated Branddirectory for Second Life

Last night I had some problems to log into Second Life. This means I've finally had some time to update the MindBlizzard RL Brand Directory.

The MindBlizzard RL Brand Directory is a list of Real Life Companies which have a presence in Second Life. The list includes SLURL's for direct access. I've updated the brand directory with the brands I've blogged in the last 5 months and it's grown to about 150 entries. Surely there are more brands in Second Life and I'll do my best to get the list as complete as possible.

Here's the complete list as an image:

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pioneering SL with sound, vision and soul

When browsing the map and randomly entering a few letters in the search I noticed a sim called "Pioneer Corporation." I had noticed the plain "Pioneer" sim months ago, but that wasn't any corporate build. This one is.

Pioneer Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that specializes in digital entertainment products, based in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded in 1938 in Tokyo as a radio and speaker repair shop. Today, Pioneer is well-known for technology advancements in the consumer electronics industry.

Pioneer played a role in the development of interactive cable TV, the Laser Disc player, the first automotive Compact Disc player, the first detachable face car stereo, Supertuner technology, DVD and DVD recording, plasma display, and Organic LED display (OLED). The company works with optical disc and display technology and software products and is also a manufacturer. Sharp Corporation
took a controlling stake in Pioneer in 2007.

The sim is actually built quite well to cover a wide range of products offered by Pioneer. The main venture is the AV Tower in which various systems are on display.

In the North-East corner there is a small residential block in which their KURO hometheatre systems are on display.

The various locations on the island are linked by a road, winding across the island. Take a balloon trip, or rent a car (with Pioneer sound off course) to see the scenery. There's a waterfall and a surf area. Unlike most (western) corporate sims, this one was actually in use. I counted about 9 people coming in for a balloon flight or a surf on the beach.

NB: Pioneer's slogan is "Sound, Vision, Soul" Although I like the sim, I missed out on the visionary part for Virtual Worlds.

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Mercedes (B) Enz SL Adventure

In skimming the blogosphere a post caught my eye, which read: Mercedes-Benz ends Second Life test run with positive findings.

The article in question was posted earlier today on the Mercedes Benz SL blog which had been quiet since august 2007. Seeing the inactivity at the blog for the last 7 months, this isn't a big surprise, but it doesn't mean Mercedes has been inactive in Second Life during these months.

The remarkable thing that they end their test run with positive findings. The blog reads:

"A little over a year, Mercedes-Benz opened its dedicated presence in the virtual world of ‘Second Life’. Since the launch of the brand’s virtual island, we won several vital insights and received plenty of positive feedback, especially for our unique communications policy. Over the course of the year, our brand avatar ‘Mercedes Milestone’ led more than 10,000 inspired dialogues.

We truly enjoyed developing this new, innovative communications platform and would like to extend our thanks to all those who visited Mercedes-Benz Island and demonstrated interest in our virtual outpost.

Our ‘Second Life’ stint will draw to an end on March 18th 2008 – as of this day, you will no longer be able to access Mercedes-Benz Island. This brief and exciting foray into virtual communities brought us several essential realisations and the conviction that 3D worlds play a vital role as engaging communication channels. We will continue to monitor this theme and keep you updated on any new developments."

Well, Mercedes has new insights. Good for them. It is still a withdrawal from a virtual world, and the umpteenth withdrawal from Second Life which makes it very clear that companies still have a very hard time in making a usefull and persistent presence in a virtual world and that Second Life desperately needs to improve if it wants to play a role as a business platform.

Since august 2006 Second Life has been the premier platform for companies to start experimenting with the Metaverse, which worked for a year or so. It's key attraction point has been the relatively low cost its ease of building and its economy. Due to this immersion Second Life has seen an enormous growth between august 06 and august 07. Since august 07 the corporate exodus has begun as the initial advantages are getting outweighed by its disadvantages, such as:

  • Lack of security
  • Lack of real collaboration tools
  • Lack of interfaces

Take heed Linden Lab

No doubt Linden Lab will state that they're not worried by the exodus of companies. There's still hundreds left, and more coming. Yet these initial pioneers have greatly aided in the growth of Second Life with the attention they received. Linden Lab is probably focussing on making a better world, but if they can't provide for these companies, if they can't make the tools work that companies need then there's only one conclusion possible:

Second Life will degrade to being just another pimped 3D chatroom, a game with bad graphics or a chaotic placeholder for a surplus of user generated content no one needs.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Under Construction: Unilever

Just spotted: Unilever.

Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate with hundreds of brands, much like Procter & Gamble. One of its brands, Ben & Jerrys has tested the virtual waters in 2007, and now the mothership is coming down with a double sim under construction. Not yet accessible though.

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Nokia: Connecting Communities

Many telecom companies have ventured into Second Life in the past year. Usually they've played with the environment without much success. Once I noticed the Nokia sim and went over for a quick visit, my first impression was that it wasn't much different then what the other Telco's have done. The longer I stayed, the more positive I got though.

There are several Nokia Islands to be found, usually the Nokia-Siemens combination, but these aren't accessible. yet. This blog will focus on the Nokia island, in a later stadium I may blog Nokia Italia, which focusses on the Nokia Trendlabs.

"Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation, focused on wired and wireless telecommunications, with 112,262 employees in 120 countries, sales in more than 150 countries and global annual revenue of 51.058 billion euros as of 2007. It is the world's largest manufacturer of mobile telephones: its global device market share was about 40% in Q4 of 2007. Nokia produces mobile phones for every major market segment and protocol, including GSM, CDMA, and W-CDMA (UMTS).

Nokia's subsidiary Nokia Siemens Networks produces
telecommunications network equipments, solutions and services.

Nokia plays a very large role in the economy of Finland: it is by far the largest Finnish company, accounting for about a third of the market capitalization of the Helsinki Stock Exchange (OMX Helsinki) as of 2007. "

The first thing I received on the island which opened in february was a notecard which read:

Welcome to Nokia Island!

Have fun and relax!

Visit the beach and take a swim, and get a yourself a brand new free Jetski!


Enjoy the spectacular experience of being inside a real Holodeck.


You can view some models is the shop, from where you can 'Zoom in' on the object in the designated productrooms. Use the Shop sign to return to the store.

(Note the immense typo in the virtual devices part - I know my blog isn't typo-free, but this is a corporate build, come on!)

The second thing I saw was the Auditorium Maximus (left), which didn't really impress me. With this mindset I turned towards the Nokia shop (right) and thought it to be just one of those things.

Inside the shop it got a little better. On the ground floor it focussed on the usual promotion stuf, but it offered huds and flying phones as well.

The second floor has a phonestand in which you can give feedback on the various models

When I walked out of the shop, my view was largely blocked by a large peacock, which stood in front of a rental sign. "Oh no... not rentals," was my first thought.

Then suddenly I noticed the virtual representation of the Burj Al Arab, the world's tallest hotel.in Dubai, which had several empty floors, several Nokia branded offices (mainly Scope Cleaver Design) and finally I noticed a MetaLife office. Here I got my first impression that they are really trying to fit their slogan "Connecting People" to this virtual world.

With that in mind I suddenly looked upon the build with new eyes. The whole of the sim is set up as a beach resort with various huts and bars along the inner lake. Although the main landmark is the Burj al Arad from Dubai, the statues from Easter Island dominate the scenery. The beachhuts are filled with benches, fireplaces and jacuzzi's to meet up. The sitting animations are always in couples. It's about connecting people, not sitting alone.

Finally, I took a ride with the Jetski and noticed a Greenie on the sim as well.

It wasn't really busy at the sim, so I can't really tell if it's a big success. To me it looks like they've managed to take their presence a step beyond their competition, but I don't know if it will be enough to really start connecting communities. It will probably depend on the type and frequency of events they will plan at the island.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Nokia/128/128/0

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fiat inverts reality

A little while ago I blogged Fiat Brasil in Second Life. Today I saw two commercials of the Fiat Punto. I liked the sense of humour they'd put into their Second Life presence. These two commercials also have a nice sense of humour.

The first video is what I'd call inverted reality.

Is this second video something you dream of? If only you could really meet the virtual girl of your dreams...

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Land of the Rising Celts: One to Watch

One of my favorite pasttime (usually late-night) hobby's is tasting whisky. If one thinks whisky, one thinks Scottish and usually ends up with Diageo. Today Diageo is the largest beer, wine and spirits company in the world with dozens of whiskies in it's portfolio, among which the well known "Classic Malt" series. As a lover of this water of life I'm no fan of Diageo though. They have a history. As you can read in Ulf Buxrud's "Lost Distilleries" they have a tradition of mergers and take-overs (under the name of UDV, United Distillers & Vintners and in preceding companies as well), and in the process are responsible for shutting down tons of old and respected distilleries in Scotland over the past 100 years.

Loyal readers of this blog and that of Ambling in Second Life may well be aware of the fact that Diageo has been developing a double sim island in Second Life for some time now. Well, this blog isn't about them. They're still lost in the waters. This blog is about the other whisky sim I've been keeping an eye on since early May (2007): Suntory.

A flashback (summarising previous blog entries):

On may 1 I spotted the Suntory sim at the center of a square of Japanese Sims, but the island wasn't accessible. There was only the logo to show, nothing else. A little later Aleister Kronos doubted it was the right Suntory. For us Europeans all Japanese have similar names and look alike, so there was the option it wasn't the Japanese brewer Suntory. I persisted though as I believed the logo to be of this megasized brewer.

In June the island took shape, but I wasn't really welcome. A few days later the design was torn down and in August I blogged on the new build appearing at the sim. In my opinion it wasn't really corporate anymore, so I started doubting myself.

(see "suntory" label for overview of these posts)

An impression

When returning to the site now, I got prove I was right. This time I took a long stroll through the sim, which in my opinion is aptly themed "Sanctuary"

Upon entering the sim I was placed on a bridge from the busy, crammy Japanese island towards a santuary in the midst of this. Although I've never been able to visit this great culture in Real Life yet, this fits in with my perception of it: Large, stressing techno-savvy cities which open up to sparkling sights of beauty and ancient culture. The feeling I get from this sim is a cross-cultural mix though. It is not what you would perceive as a traditional Japanese sanctuary, but feels like a cross of Japanese and Medieval European tradition and architecture.

On the first platform you'll encounter a sticky wall with shots of the island.

Further on you'll encounter several of the dozens of brands in beverage the company holds or imports, varying from Boss Coffee to Pepsi cola.

Finally I found the way down to the bar, which breathes the atmosphere of a classic "gentlemen's lounge," a place that cries for a good dram. In the bar you'll encounter the whiskies Suntory imports, like the well known Bowmore, Macallan and Glenfiddich, but also their own Suntory brand is present (if only RL pubs would charge these rates!)...

Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I really like this sim. I think it truly is a sanctuary between all the skyscraperish sims surrounding it, breathing ease and relaxation. A perfect atmosphere for a whisky. In itself the build is of an outstanding quality. It is an intricate design and I haven't discovered a single texture out of sync. To me, this sim is more than a brand. It is about a lifestyle.

There's a few points of criticism though. As happens with a lot of sims in Second Life, this one was empty so I couldn't find a tourguide. Most information was illegible to me as it was Japanese. Only the most basic directions were given in English, such as 'Marina', 'Square' and 'Bar' but i really would have liked to know more about the build, the sim and what is going on here.


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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

vBusiness Expo

I got pointed towards a video on YouTube about the vBusiness Expo. This will be an event about the Virtual Workspace, working in a virtual environment. The video states that there are over 200 companies working in Second Life right now. At 1.09 minutes you'll see Sogeti logo fly by...

I*t doesn't really say who uploaded the vid, except "posted by vBusiness" but I think I recognise Nick Wilson's (Clever Zebra, ex Metaversed) voice there.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Lancia gives SL the Boot

Lancia gives SL the boot... were they ever in? No they just entered Second Life, with their island bootshaped like their hometurf Italy. Last week I thought I had finished blogging every car company in Second Life when I did my post on Vauxhall but saturday the Italian Fiat subsidiary opened up their island to the public. Island is a little deceiving here as their virtual showroom is quite a setup spreading 4 sims.

Lancia explains their virtual presence on the supporting website:

Lancia has created an Island in the shape of Italy, testifying to the brand’s commitment to spreading the made in Italy ethos.

The island has 5 main buildings, 5 areas where you can experience our mood. To the North East there is the Reception, the ideal spot to start with to discover the island. To the North West, there is the Multi-Theatre, the island’s nerve centre, containing the Drive In and the Conference Room. In the Drive In area special content videos are waiting for you – you will be able to see them using QuickTime Player- with international artists such as U2, Zucchero, Peter Gabriel, Queen and Beyoncé playing the main roles. They were realized for 46664, the worldwide campaign against HIV created by Nelson Mandela, and they will be broadcasted on three big screens.

Meanwhile, in the centre, there is the Showroom, the heart of the island, the place where you can discover virtual versions of Lancia’s models, but where you can also get the very latest news and information about the brand. One above
all: interesting anticipations about the long awaited launch of new Lancia Delta. Heading West, there is the Glass Bubble. Inspired by the famous glass bubble on the roof of the Lingotto factory in Turin, this is the island’s disco,
where you can dance long into the night to the rhythm of the trendiest music around.

Lastly, if you go South, you will come to the Lancia Café, where you can relax with a drink or skip over the waves in a water-scooter.

Discover the Lancia Village, a new way of seeing the world of Lancia, from a new, rather unusual point of view.

As far as automotive immersions go, it isn't too different from what their peers have done. It's the usual press center and test track, but it has something extra with the videos and water scooter stuff. As far as design goes, it is Italian design which in this case means: It is a good build. I was actually impressed by a number of things. One of the things that really caught my attention was the colorboards next to the cars in the Showroom.. Alas, they didn't function as I had hoped. The boards display in which color the car is available. It would have been nice if they had been scripted to change the color of the car in the showroom accordingly when touched.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Lancia%20Village/128/128/0

All car companies present in Second Life can be found through the automotive label on MindBlizzard.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Real Life Cities (11): Copenhagen - but which one?

When I was looking for the Copenhagen City sim last time I found an empty sim. Today I went for another set of sims: The first sim I went to today was Denmark Copenhagen which has a focus on shopping and is your run of the mill sim, but the bordering sims are a lot more interesting. The second sim is the Copenhagen old town with old woodwork houses and the third sim, called Denmark Int, houses one of Copenhagens landmarks. With a little luck you'll take to right alley towards the Nyhavn and some other well known spots.

There are three things that bother me with this sim. When I first visited this sim, it was well populated with quite a number of Danes chatting at a fireplace down at the Nyhavn harbor. The region's main focus is shopping however, but 9 out of 10 shops are empty which gives the build a rather sad look. The second thing is -common for these places and perhaps the reason for it's failure to attract shops - the time the heavy texturing needs to rez.

The third and last issue I have with this sim is the edges of the build. As you can see in the images top left and bottom left the edges contain a number of builds which don't fit in and give thye build a sloppy mainlain ghetto look with its flashy advertisements and hovering builds.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

de-activ8 Nestlé

One of the new entries in Second Life earlier this month is Swiss dairy mogul Nestlé.

"Nestlé is a multinational packaged food company
founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It results from a merger in 1905 between the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company for milk products established by the Page Brothers in Cham, Switzerland, in 1866 and the Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé Company set up in 1867 by Henri Nestlé to provide an infant food product.
Several of Nestlé's brands are globally renowned, which made the company a global market leader in many product lines, including milk, chocolate, confectionery, bottled water, coffee, creamer, food seasoning and pet foods...
...Some of Nestlé's business practices have been considered unethical, especially the manner in which infant formula has been marketed in developing countries, which led to the Nestlé boycott from 1977."


It's been a while since I've seen a good build, and beforehand I had expected a good professional build, but it was a disappointment. The first signs were good... when looking for the island I saw it was a double-sim build and there were about 25 people present. So it's generating traffic...

It's prime focus is the Nesquick Quicksk8 Park, a more or less urban style skate / ball park with a chocolatemilky river. This is what generates traffic today: The skatepark has been transformed into a cemetary with a Halloween party. Along the river you'll find the Nesquik Graffiti Wall. There's a shack where you can get skateboards and some info on milk. And that's about as Nesquick as it gets.

The build looks quite nesQuick 'n Dirty... it's a bit chaotic and disjoint. The landscaping looks a bit erratic and cheap. The rest of the double-sim venue is split up in various resorts, rentals, clubs and whatever; these are the areas I flew past:

  • Activ8 Beach Resort
  • Activ8 Nightlife Complex
  • Activ8 Martini Lounge

It's a double sim and it's just too much. It's chaotic. I'd not yet read KZero's remarks (spot on!) and expected something like Charlie's-chocolate-factory-ish or Ben & Jerry style.

Here's what Nic from KZero has to say:

But, there’s a serious problem here.

Who is the target market for Nesquik? Is it late 20’s to early 30’s (as the main age group represented in SL) tech and media savvy early adopters? Or is it young kids? Or
maybe it’s the mothers and fathers that actually purchase the product in supermarkets?

If the target is kids, then from a media planning perspective, quite simply it’s the right time but wrong place for them. There’s no kids in Second Life - try There or Kaneva, in fact, go even younger, into Whyville, Club
or Habbo.

If the target is mothers and fathers, then the treatment and execution of this project again is out of focus - ever skateboarded in Second Life? Or even wanted to?

Somebody please tell me if I’ve missed the point here!?

As the venue is called activ8, my conclusion would be to de-activ8. Sorry folks.

Anyway, if you'd like to waste your time, here's the SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ACTIV8/128/128/0

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Smirnoff meltdown

After a hard days work I needed a drink. Usually I turn to whiskey, but tonight I was invited to grab one of the last available Vodka's by Smirnoff.

The above picture was taken by TerryAnn Antonelli when the sim was complete. Now it's slowly fading away as global heating devours the ice. Only the ice castle still stands, but no one is really sure for how long. Today, tomorrow or next week this build may be gone completely.

The Smirnoff sim has been around for only a month or so, originally set up for the sole purpose of making a machinima (which isn't out yet I believe) and now melts away just as many many other things come and go in Second Life. At least in machinima and some blogs a bit of its memory will survive.

More pictures by TerryAnn Antonelli

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Smirnoff%20Island/128/128/0

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Daily paper screws SL advertisment

Dutch daily free newspaper Sp!ts blundered last week as it didn't pay much attention to where they put their advertisements. On the page below you see an advertisment from the Dutch Hotelplan company (the red part) reading: "Second Life? Rather go on a REAL holiday"

Nothing special sofar. It's not really a Second Life advertisment at all. However, timing and placement couldn't have been worse, as the rest of the page is filled with "Laatste applaus voor Jos," a tribute to one of the great showmasters of the Netherlands who passed away last week.

You can't blame Hotelplan for this error, and Sp!ts has made their apologies for this inconvenient situation.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


My professional network is growing with people who are 'professional' bloggers. In the Netherlands we don't see many full-time bloggers. We just don't see how it would work out. Sponsored blogging... that would jeopardise objective reporting. Doesn't it?

Just taking a look at 3pointD, sponsored by the Electric Sheep Company and SecondLife.nl sponsored by DNB Media are just two examples. Is it enough to go blogging full time? Are these blog subjective or objective when it comes to their sponsors presence?

Everyone needs some recognition. I must admit I'm pretty keen on keeping track of my Technorati ratings and blogs that link to this blog. I'm quite satisfied at the result I've made sofar: A Second Life blog, loosely focussing on the business side of life getting into the Technorati top 100K blogs within 4 months.

But what's it worth? I've put time into it. An awfull lot. Near 100 hours a month. So what's it worth? Now there's a tool by Technorati that values the MindBlizzard blog at 37K in USD.

My blog is worth $37,259.64.
How much is your blog worth?

But how valuable is this? It's said to be based upon proper research:

"Data from Technorati and inspired by research from Tristan Louis. "

But how valuable is this? Is it like American mortgage loans getting wrapped and traded by hedgefunds? What would you pay for a blog like this? Here's a contra-expertise:

I ran the test once more on a fresly set up blog with just one post:

Then what's Scobleizer worth, or 3 Point D? Robert Scoble is valued at $1,860,723.84 and Mark Wallace at $426,792.24.

The question remains. This is what research says. But how much would you like to pay? Are you offering me 37K US Dollars? I don't think so. Value of blogs is based on content and its value changes for every reader. Maybe this post has value for you, or maybe only my last post on Rezzable, or my series of posts on Banking in Second Life... Or maybe this blog means **** to you because you're only looking for sex in SL.

What's art? That's a similar question. The answer lies in the eye of the beholder. And still: Is a sponsored blog able to give unbiased reviews?

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Second Life Yummy Garden

Just once in a while you meet that occasional mouthwatering venue in Second Life. In response to my Brand Directory listing Gwen Kronsage tipped this venue in Second Life. While walking around in this virtual garden of delights I noticed quite a steady stream of visitors from every corner of the world.

This yummy garden is brought to us by Ben & Jerry's, the masters of icecream. Although BJ's must have got almost the same all-american image as the big M it's actually owned by Unilever, a Dutch multinational with over 400 well known brands.

The main venue holds a very colorfull factory, Ben & Jerry's First Environmental Factory with several dairy pastures and games. Upon entering the factory you'll get a floor plan and an overview of B&J's history.

The factory is a fun experience as you walk through the complete production process:

  1. Mix Making
  2. Flavouring
  3. Greenhouse
  4. Packaging
  5. Freezing

As an extra service there's the Ben & Jerrys orientation island, which is also in this übersweet candy-color style. A nice detail would have been to create a cream-topped hairdo, but maybe that would be too much for Second Life rookies.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Ben%20and%20Jerrys/128/128/0

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Holland SL: KPN

Another Dutch company opened shop in Second Life, this time it's the eldest Telco company of the Netherlands, KPN. Their sim is half finished, but already heavily used by KPN employees.

The Dutch Secondlife.NL blog reports that KPN employees went out to STRIKE on the SL island to get better working conditions and salary.
The build is centered around the KPN logo, 3 colored domes, of which only the green one is in use yet. The others are under construction. Inside the green dome a few standard features; info and auditorium things, a few gadgets like waterski's.

A nice feature is the Text Messaging Gadget which allows you to send 3 SMS text messages to first life at the price of L$ 150.

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When will they get it?

The Dutch PCM Web (Personal Computer Magazine) picks up a story by the LA Times that companies are getting disappointed in Second Life. It is another sign of old media living in total oblivion of what is going on.

"After an enormous hype om Second Life more and more 'experts' are getting sceptic on the added value of Second Life to business. Online visitors aren't big shoppers, but are mainly looking for entertainment" reads the introduction. Where did this come from? There's hardly a real life company to be found in Second Life that's actually selling stuff. If it ain't on offer, we can't buy it.

"Successfully promoting your company inside the virtual world of Second Life shows to be harder than expected. More and more marketing departments conclude that Second Life residents feel like visiting their online stores. "Actually there isn't any convincing reason to be present in Second Life" says Brian McGuinness, a Hotelchain bigshot in the LA times, and thus his company left Second Life"

Most of these 'marketing departments' probably have never seen Second Life from the inside. Many companies just use Second Life as another medium for corporate communication... without understanding it. It's back to the early 90's when serious companies launched crappy (excuse me) Frontpage websites.

In most cases there wont be a ROI (return on investment) indeed for the year to come, or even the year after. When will companies see that Second Life is not a commercial, a product flyer?

There are companies that dig SL though. Have a look at Intel and Cisco giving tech meetings and classes on Java and other skills. take a look at Philips taking surveys, or at ABN Amro organising sponsor events for non profits.

Forrester shows brain!

One of the most telling lines in this article is the following quote: "Analists from Forrester (yay, the big reasearchers) have calculated that at prime time there are only about 35,000 to 40,000 visitors in Second Life"

Okay, prepare for another research paper (usual rates about $ 1.000,- US dollar / hard cash) telling you the same the counter on this webpage -an many many other websites - will show you every single day.

The good news is: You don't even need to pay me L$ 1,000 to get this info.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

ICEX - Spanish Export

Today I visited the ICEX island, which I've spotted mid april and found it open to public.

In april I wrote: "As far as I can tell from the logo in the bottom right corner, the ICEX Servicios sim is set up by the Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior." Well, I was right.

In short, ICEX is -as far as my Spanish goes - an Intstitute to promote Spanish companies abroad (though surprisingly I only found Spanish text and no English).
At first look the sim looks quite unorganised and messy, but some investigation led me to the website of Exporta 2007, and is about an export exposition. This explains the many corporate stands bordering the island.
The main venue is on clean energy. The picture above (right) shows some windmills and solar energy stands, and the main building (below) holds information on a solar station Spain is working on.
Now I recall a radio broadcast a few months ago where they'd discussed 'green energy' and one of the remarks was that much of todays green energy technology is coming from Western Europe and Scandinavia, and that the Southern European countries are lagging severely. Especially Spain.
What I recall from my holidays in Spain (Canary Islands and Costa del Sol) is that Spain isn't concerned with the environment at all. The country is drying up, but the coasts are getting greener and greener due to heavily showered golf-courses and palm-lined tourist resorts. As temperatures will rise and Spain will be seeing more and more sun, it would naturally be a country to invest in Solar energy technology. Now it seems they're getting that message, and now want to announce that Spain too is getting 'climate-savvy'

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Watch Out! Tendence

From the Tendence website

The new tendence No Limits watches
"Today Tendence No Limits faces the market with three lines of time pieces created as a provocation and sustained by solid construction bases, such as the patented Bubble model technology, whose exclusive use of liquid silicone creates a product designed to resist 30 atmospheres, while weighing only 50 grams.The new Tendence No Limits watches combine the glamour of high-level performance and the precious features of innovative material. The crystalline transparencies of polycarbonate join the colourful sensuality of silicone and the precious qualities of Lorica."

Okay what does this outright commercial have to do with Second Life? Well, Dutch Content Creators DNB Media build an island and made two commercials from Second Life to promote the new watches. Unfortunately the island itself is closed to the public, but it's still out there.

Watch one of the videos on YouTube.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Tendence/128/128/0

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds

Nearly 30% of the Top100 companies in the Netherlands are actively engaged in virtual worlds, as a recent EPN survey shows.

Of these 100 companies, 48 participated in the quickscan and they show that:
  • 60% see added value to internal communication
  • 52% see added value in training and branding
  • 45% see added value to external activities such as cocreation and staffing.
  • 66% say that it is still hard to get access to the right people
  • 50% see the stability of Second Life as a threat

And some say that they see Linden Labs as an unpredictable factor.

I'm not sure which companies but here's a few in Second Life:
  • ING
  • Philips
  • Heineken
  • Randstad
  • Content
  • Aegon
I'm wondering where the others are... please let me know ;)

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fashion gets Spanish Spice

Fashion has been one of Second Life's hot commodities since the early days. Many residents leaped to the challenge of creating virtual clothing and the number of stores is astonishing. Everybody in Second Life needs clothing, even more so than bling bling apparati or cars.

Yet very few Fashion houses have come to Second Life. Adidas and Reebok have a presence, and Calvin Klein, but that's about it as far as it goes to official presence (and not imitation). Spanish fashion house Bershka is going to add another big RL fashion brand to that shortlist.

"For us, bringing Bershka to SL (for whom we've been long developing design and web projects) is specially interesting. Bershka is an important brand on fashion industry (400 shops in 28 countries) who consider Mosi-Mosi their preferred new media partner.Bershka will offer a complete subset of their real life clothing items every season with their woman, man, jeans and Bsk sections. The entire island will also be updated every season to keep up with the collection main theme. We will also have regular parties and events for the SL community in an effort to offer a good place for them and us to meet and discover each other." says Daniel Aguilar of the Spanish interactive agency Mosi-Mosi, located in Barcelona, also responsible for some work on the Swedish Embassy in Second Life (next to Electric Sheep Company) and is most known for its SLOOG product.

The build is still in production stage right now, and next week will see a wrap up. A few days later will see an official opening event, mainly targeted at the press. I'll be looking forward to seeing the complete build.

Some pics on the work in progress can be found in this Flickr set.
SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Bershka/128/128/0

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Adidas awareness

I'm just realising I left out an important blogpost. I've blogged Reebok and BBH earlier this month, but forgot to blog their neighbour, Adidas. I visited the sim, took a few snapshots but completely forgot to post it. There are two plausible explanations for this omission
  1. It was way past bedtime when I blogged Reebok and BBH
  2. The Adidas sim was just not good enough to be blogged.

Well, to be honest, I wasn't very enthausiastic about it. It was pretty much the same as Reebok, a shop with some shoes and nothing much of a so desired experience. When I think of Adidas I think of Steffi Graff sweating on Roland Garros or some other sporty event...

The reason I've added this post now is because there is something funny about Adidas. KZero blogged about brand perception in SL, based upon a research done by Reperes, a french market research agency (the one from the desing competition). The most remarkable result is that Adidas has scored highest with a 69% brand awareness.

Anyway, Adidas was brought to SL by the inevitable Rivers Run Red. However, it could be a German build as it is almost as white as the BMW and Toca Me designs.


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Trimedia trial and error

"Trimedia Communications is Europe’s fastest growing Public Relations and communications consultancy." They have offices throughout Europe and thought it would be nice if their sim would have the same layout... Well I was there, didn't recognise it, but somewhere I saw a nice picture that proved Trimedia right.

The official press reading is:

Europe will be an island

Trimedia Communications opens a branch in "Second Life"

Trimedia Communications is the first European PR agency group that is opening a branch in Second Life. "The Trimedia World" mirrors the European Trimedia network and is designed to become a central meeting place, for everyone active and interested in PR and marketing in the virtual reality world...

Off course, there's a lot more in the official release, mainly saying that a lot can be done at the island, but I haven't noticed. My friend Aleister blogged this build last month and had the feeling it was still incomplete. A month later, it still looks like it's missing a beat...

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