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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Monday, October 13, 2008

Coke's Back with Nestea

An interesting story about the return of Coca Cola in Second Life. Through Reuters.

SECOND LIFE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Will the marketing of real world brands in Second Life find a second life?

Maybe. Nestea, a Coca-Cola brand, announced today it’s sponsoring Second Life’s “Junkyard Blues” venue.

Neither Nestea nor Junkyard Blues’ owners were available for immediate comment. But a visit to Junkyard Blues shows a “Sponsored by Nestea” banner over the main stage. Don’t try clicking on the banner though — it’s non-interactive.

The sponsorship, while modest, represents an affirmation of Second Life as a continued destination for real-world companies to market their goods. A recent survey by BusinessWeek ranked Coca-Cola as the most valuable brand in the world.

Nor does the choice by Coca-Cola of a Second Life blues venue seem coincidental. Last month, Second Life bluesman Von Johin signed a record deal in what’s believed to be the first virtual musician to break into the real-life mainstream.

Coca-Cola was among the companies that made a strong entrance into Second Life during the first wave of corporate marketing with a “virtual thirst” campaign. However in recent months, the company has stepped back its Second Life profile, taking the virtualthirst.com website offline.

Find more on Coca Cola on the MindBlizzard blog

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Monday, October 06, 2008

I'm loving it: McWorld

Early august the news (which I missed) aired that fastfood supplier McDonald's is revamping their HappyMeal.com website into a Virtual World. On August 4 Virtual Worlds News wrote:
"McDonald's is apparently in the process of soft-launching a virtual world to take over HappyMeal.com. It's not clear how old the world is, but the contest is still open for kids to pick the virtual world's name--and, according to the intro video, new games, lands, events, etc., to build the world from the ground up based on videos.. So I'm guessing the transition is pretty new, possibly even just from last week. There is already an eye toward real-world integration: entering a code from actual Happy Meal boxes and bags as well as McDonald's milk cartons and Apple Dipper bags will let users unlock exclusive items in the Flash-based virtual world."

Today, a two months later this particular contest has closed and now it's official: Surprisingly enough the winning name is: McWorld. McWorld itself is definately a kids world, aimed at youngsters and provides a whole range of simple games (much more simple than even those of Club Pinguin). I'm clearly over age in this environment, so I won't say I'm loving it. Anyone has kids to testdrive this world?

Read more on McWorld:

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Playboy gets Dressed

This weeks top story features Playboy getting dressed for the occasion. Playboy getting dressed isn't your typical April Fool's Day prank but a very smart move by the popular magazine, as reported by James Wagner Au at the NWN blog:

Smart Bunny: Playboy Sells Fashion Created And Co-Branded By Second Life Designers

With regular events and a staff of gregarious, frequently dancing Bunnies, Playboy's official Second Life presence, a tropical island club developed by Boston's Green Grotto Studios, is one of the few real world company sites boasting steady visitor traffic. (Direct SLURL teleport at this link.) And unless I missed a previous announcement, it can now claim another title: the first major company to link its brand with Second Life-only brands. In this case, Playboy-branded fashion sold on the official island, but created and promoted by SL designers who are an integral part of the label; among them, KO Designs, Alpha Male, Sharkture, and Simply Spoiled.

Playboy started out in the Metaverse with the opening of the Playboy Island in Second Life in June 2007 (read blogpost here), which surprisingly (for many) didn't become the house of sin in the sex-filled world of Second Life. No actually, there was nothing sexy about Playboy's presence.

This time, everybody is getting fluffy with the bunny as Playboy is now in cohoots with a quality selection of Second Life fashion designers. Reactions from the more marketing oriented blogs are pretty happy about Playboy's move;

Nic Mitham says:

"The company is selling Playboy-branded items on the island created by residents inside Second Life - they are tapping into the expertise incumbent in-world."

And Digodo writes:

"It’s an interesting move because apparently Playboy thinks they can fill a gap the Metabrands have - a recognizable, A-brand that separates the quality from the B products for people who haven’t spend months in Second Life. On the other hand, the metabrands bring ‘good will’ of the existing community to the table, a recognised and appriciated brand amongst people who have spend some time in Second Life and are well rooted into the community.

What the most important thing is, in my humble opinion is that Playboy seem to understand how communities work and that is even more important than getting your product out in the virtual world. I have been very disappointed with the things (the majority of) real world companies have done in Second Life sofar. It's been a marketing trip mostly, and the community just isn't interested. It's time companies skip the promo-attitude blabla and start taking their business into Virtual Worlds.

This would have been easy for Playboy, to bring their business to a Virtual World which is sex-infested according to many. Doing the opposite; getting dressed gets them my respect and it shows they understand the way the Second Life community works. Whereas most brands come in and invite people to 'leave their natural habitat' to come to their island, Playboy is bringing the brand to the community.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brussels Airlines: Subtle and Smart

Hundreds of companies are trying to understand the Metaverse and find a use for 3D environments that has meaning to their business. Most of them have failed... for now.

Last year I stumbled upon the website and blog B-Places, which basically is a guide to the toprated places in Second Life. Second Life residents rate the places they've visited and the website shows the sims to visit. An excellent move, even more so if you know that B-Places is powered by Brussels Airlines, a Belgian airliner.

The B-Places formula fits neatly into the corporate communications which uses the B-.... terminology a lot (see inset of b-flex economy) and what do you do when you're an airliner and get down to the Metaverse?

Exactly, an airline's core business is to bring people from place to place. In the virtual world however, you don't need transportation. You can just teleport. Airliners have become obsolete. Yet Brussels Airlines knows that bringing people from place to place is just a means to a goal. It is actually about people going to destinations. So if you can't do the transportation part, focus on the destinations. That's exactly what the B-Places directory does.

Here's a short promovid on YouTube:

Here's a snapshot of the website:

Toprated places in Second Life are the Botanical Gardens, but also Rezzable's Greenies and the Caribbean are among the citizens favorites. To me this is a very succesful and creative way to experiment with virtual worlds. It isn't outright branding, but subtle and smart.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Virtual Vauxhall (Opel)

When blogging the Brasilian Fiat presence in Second Life last week I thought I'd pretty much blogged every automotive company in Second Life. There's one more: British Vauxhall (A General Motors subsidiary, but in Europe perhaps best known for the German Opel with the steering wheel on the wrong side)

The reason why I've missed them is probably because they have decided not to build an impressive island with predictable features such as a racing track. Vauxhall has created the Corsa Guide to Second Life.

The Corsa Guide is a plain scrapbook showing favorite locations in Second Life, including places such as the Blarney Stone, Bora Bora Wavelabs, Acropolis Gardens, The Lost Gardens of Apollo, and the Bubblegum Music Factory.

KZero had a nice post on this late May 2007:

SL major brands no.27 1/2: Vauxhall. British car-maker
Vauxhall has just launched their Second Life effort. Electing to focus on a single brand as opposed to the entire range, Vauxhall have chosen the Corsa. It would appear that they didn’t get the memo on the demographic profile of SL

So, what are they doing? Well, strickly speaking, they are not (yet) launching an official presence inside SL, hence only the half. Instead, they are using ‘The Corsa Guide‘ as a tool to encourage residents to tag favourite places in SL and share them with other people. Apparently the top ten voted places in SL will be featured in forthcoming ‘Vauxhall Corsa Guide to Getting a (Second) Life. Nice.

Shame they didn’t think to integrate some of their real world marketing efforts into SL."


"Interestingly, and read into this what you will, there are no unofficial representations of Vauxhall (or Opel) car brands in SL. Interesting because of the sweetspot between virtual world marketing and automobiles and interesting
because Vauxhall didn’t seek to maximise this opportunity. C’Mon!"

Vauxhalls own pick is a little different though: Shelley Perkins, at Vauxhall Corsa, known as Shelley Soderstrom in-world, said,

"Corsa is synonymous with having a good time and now we want to help people have fun 'virtually' too. It's a new world to explore, and it can be confusing finding your way around. This initiative will help newcomers find the best places to enjoy."

There are tons of blogs that pick the sweetspots in Second Life and I personally doubt the Corsa-driver-taste is fully compatible with mine. True, the New World maybe hard to navigate but I don't see it a car-manufacturers task to provide the hotspots. Companies such as The Yellow Pages, Navman, Tom-Tom or tour operators would be more logical candidates to service an approach like this.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Levi's Extraverse

In October Jeans tycoon Levi's launched its own extraverse, Levi's World, in Hong Kong, a branded virtual world dedicated to Levi products. It's first live hours saw over 6.000 registrations with eager fashion addicts and pretty soon we'll see the English version go live.

The campaign for Levi's World has been created by TEQUILA Hong Kong (TBWA) and OMD. Their view basically comes down to:

"Are you fed-up of Facebook, sick of Second Life? If so, then you may be interested to know that Levi’s are claiming to have ‘disrupted the convention’ of such social networking sites with the launch of the first ever (do they really think so?) branded virtual world. No prizes for guessing what it’s been called, though"

Levi's weren't the first to go extraverse, but it is a logical step. Throughout the Metaverse you see people paying a lot of attention to their avatars, with clothing being a hot marketing item.

First images do not show this world as able to create realistic avatars and environment, but a bit more cartoonesk graphics. The world is aimed at 15-25 year olds and has a free membership model. However, economy and marketing comes into play as you're able to buy your Levi stuff and can obtain vouchers which can be used at Real Life Levi stores.

Here's a YouTube movie about the launch:

To go from scratch to a dedicated extraverse is a giant leap, but Levi's has got several years of experience in the Metaverse which they started to explore as early as 2003. Along with Nike, Levi's was one of the main sponsors that pushed the launch of There.com.

"27,000 There
There launched its beta-test form -- 27,000 users have already entered the There world -- in January, with Nike and Levi Strauss & Co. among marketers who partnered with the firm to see how their wares fared in a virtual marketplace. Both brands will continue their relationship with there."

Full There.com launch article here.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Virtual Feyenoord

Soccer is big business (probably everywhere in the world except for the USA). Millions of fans worldwide go to see their heroes battle on the pitch each weekend. Everyone has an opinion about soccer, in the Netherlands we've got a saying; "we've got 16 million national team coaches" everyone knows how to play the game and thinks he can do better. No wonder that soccer games and soccer management games have been extremely popular for years.

In the recent boom of virtual worlds, it's no wonder we're seeing virtual soccerworlds arrive, such as World of Soccer and Football Superstars. In Second Life we've also seen the first signs of football / soccer clubs appear in the past year. We've had the Amsterdam ArenA, home of AFC Ajax and AC Milan's San Siro stadium which we're nice builds, but no more than that.

These two builds didn't originate from the clubs though and Rotterdam based Feyenoord is the first club that actually enters Second Life officially, though not with a virtual representation of their stadium, they're a lot smarter (mind you, I'm no fan)
Soccerfans are loyal customers. It's an almost certain guarantee they'll stick to your brand and spend their money on the latest clubshirts and other club memorabilia, and they're great brand promotors as they'll wear your brand everywhere they go, even in Second Life. has seen that clothes are one of the key assets in virtual worlds and that mobile branding / avatar marketing is the fastest way to get your name around. Feyenoord has contracted Dutch content creators SLionhead to establish their virtual foothold in Second Life. The build is what appears to be a virtual club home; tv-screens, historic matches, live matches, virtual goodies and so on. I say appear to be as I haven't seen it with my own eyes. I've seen bits and peaces on the small vid from Feyenoord.tv posted on the SLionhead blog here.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Metaverse news august

Last week has been very busy with pressing Real Life projects, so I've not been following the news properly. Here's a round up of some interesting news from the virtual world blogoshphere:

Ambling in Second Life:

  • Brand Protection in Virtual Worlds

    The topic of branding should be close to the heart of any organisation setting up in a virtual world. In theory, this new environment should not pose any greater problem than existing communications channels, such as the web, TV or the printed word. However, there is one key difference between this and existing channels: it is an unknown.
  • Another Second Life Conference is Cancelled

    I have just received news that SLCC 2007 - Deutschland, due to be held from 21st to 23rd of September in Dusseldorf has been cancelled.

Virtual World News:


  • 15 Things You Should Know About vSide, The New 3D Facebook

    The Grid Safari group got the grand tour of recently launched vSide today by Doppelganger founder Andrew Littlefield. We took a long look around the entire system, and learned a whole truckload of new tricks in what has to be one of the best looking 3D social environments, if not the best, I've been in. vSide is a beautiful space for teenagers to hang out, socialize and listen to music. As Littlefield puts it, if Second Life is Myspace, then vSide is Facebook.
  • Google Earth + Skype + Multiuser = Unype

    Created as a free project by Holoscape Inc. founder Murat Aktihanoglu, Unype allows multiple users to interact with the Google Earth API together and speak to one another through Skype. While there has been much speculation about Google's plans for future virtual worlds, Unype demonstrates how easy it might be to put something really interesting together. It's in a very early beta stage, but at a tiny 210K download it's definitely worth taking a few moments to look at. (Unfortunately, Windows only at the moment.)


  • Conduit Social Gaming World Gets $5.5m Round

    Susan Wu, who was instrumental in arranging the Virtual Goods Summit I moderated a panel at in June, emailed me some embargoed news earlier today, and though I begged and pleaded, she asked me wait until midnight to post it. However, I see that the news is already out there, so I have to apologize to Susan and jump the gun, if only slightly: The news is that Charles River Ventures, where Susan is a partner, has just co-led a $5.5 million Series A financing of Conduit Labs,
  • Metaverse Roadmap to Singapore

    The fifth annual State of Play conference on legal and social issues in virtual worlds is under way this week in Singapore. I had to cancel my trip out there, which is a shame, since SoP is consistently one of the most interesting gatherings of VW thinkers. Jerry Paffendorf is there, though, and reports that the chin-wagging is already gathering steam.


  • Beastie Boys live in There

    Beastie Boys live in There. That’s live as in appearing in real-time as opposed to living in There, just in case you were wondering. As part of their recently agreed partnership, Capitol Music Group and There.com brought The Beastie Boys in-world on Monday night to hang-out with the residents. Other planned event sclude Korn, Yellowcard and Lily Allen.
  • HiPiHi announces global strategy

    HiPiHi announces global strategy. The Chinese 3D virtual world HiPiHi announced its global strategy on 20th August 2007 in Singapore,and has confirmed their strategic investors, including ngi group.


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Monday, August 13, 2007

Citroën Brasilian style

From the mediterranean to the Copocabana is just one TP. The Copocabana houses a positively Latin metropole and several Brasilian companies. Brasil is doing SL Brasil style as it doesn't wait for the official international companies to arrive in Second Life, but follow their own branding and marketing agendas.

For several months Fiat Brasil has been under construction - and it should open soon - and now Citroën Brasil takes a / the stand as well.

However, there's supposed t be an official Citroën island. I've not spotted it yet, but here's a YouTube screener:


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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Passion 4 Fashion

Don't worry, I won't start blogging Fashion in Second Life... There's a ton of good, bad and ugly blogs about fashion in Second Life.

..unless it has some RL impact of course. Summertime now, time for some mediterranean moods while I drink a nice chilled Sangria it's time to head back to Bershka for some snapshots of the finished build of this Spanish house of Fasion.

Next stop on the mediterranean tour is the rumours of Armani coming to SL, supposedly at this island. If it's true, they will have to compete with several 'impostors' as there are many Armani, Emporio and other related groups and shops in Second Life.
According to KZero this rumour seems to be part of a bigger strategy:
"The SL launch is being tied into a wider strategy to implement e-commerce solutions across the Armani brand range."

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

VeeJay's Branddirectory

Here's a list of Real Life brands in Second Life. I think the list is nearing completion, but I surely have forgotten a few. Which ones?

For a better view have a look at the page I'm setting up here. In that overview I've added flags to show where these companies are based, or which local office took the initiative (e.g. Fiat is Italian, but brought to Second Life from Brasil and Renault from France, but brought to Second Life by the Italians).


  1. AKQA

  2. Abramelin Studios

  3. Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty

  4. Crayon

  5. Dieste Marketing

  6. Heartbeat Digital

  7. Leo Burnett

  8. Mediacom

  9. Square One Research

  10. Text 100


  1. BMW

  2. Fiat

  3. Mazda

  4. Mercedes

  5. Motorati / Pontiac

  6. Nissan

  7. Renault

  8. Toyota

Employment Services

  1. Content

  2. Kelly

  3. Manpower

  4. Randstad


  1. ABN Amro

  2. BCV

  3. BNP Paribas

  4. Cofidis

  5. Credit Agricole

  6. Deutsche AG

  7. DNB Norway

  8. ING

  9. Saxo

  10. Suruga

  11. Visa

  12. Wirecard

Food & Beverage

  1. Capozzi Winery

  2. Coca Cola

  3. Guinness

  4. Heineken

  5. Suntory


  1. Aegon

  2. Unive

Information Technology

  1. Amazon Web Services

  2. AMD

  3. Autodesk

  4. Cisco

  5. Dell

  6. Depo Consulting

  7. IBM

  8. Intel

  9. Lenovo

  10. Level 3

  11. Microsoft

  12. PA Consulting

  13. Softlab

  14. Sogeti

  15. Sprint

  16. Sun

Media & Entertainment

  1. ABC

  2. Avro

  3. BBC Radio 1

  4. BNN

  5. Channel 4

  6. CNET

  7. Fox Atomic

  8. Movietickets

  9. MTV

  10. NBC

  11. Penguin Books

  12. Regina Spektor

  13. Reuters

  14. Skynews

  15. Sony BMG

  16. Sundance Channel

  17. Talpa

  18. Q-Music

  19. Warner Bros

  20. Wired


  1. Adidas

  2. American Apparel

  3. Calvin Klein

  4. Nike

  5. Philips

  6. Reebok

  7. Sears

  8. Tendence


  1. Argali

  2. Belgacom

  3. Comcast

  4. KPN

  5. Pulver

  6. Sony Ericson

  7. Telus

  8. Trimedia

  9. Vodafone

  10. You Never Call


  1. Aloft Hotels

  2. Cumbrian Tourist Board

  3. Mexico Tourist Board

  4. STA Travel

  5. Starwood Hotels

Transport & Logistics

  1. Arriva

  2. Connexion

  3. DHL

  4. Dutch Railways (NS)

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

StageSpace - Stage 2: The Return

As you may have read I registered at StageSpace after Tao Takashi's report to check it out.
As it was quite late I didn't do much exploring, but here's a brief on my return to StageSpace.

The welcome was warm, a nice lady awaited me upon my return. However, this was just when returning to the website. On my first visit, and on this second trip I did not encounter any other lifeform inside this world. After talking to Tao he'd noticed the same thing. Perhaps we should try and do a Geek Meet session in this environment to see how it handles a large audience.
The technique about StageSpace is quitwe interesting. It is Java (Webstart tech) based and doesn't need a client installation, which makes it accessible from about everywhere -and no updates! Starting the engine could take some time because everything needs to be streamed from the server, but with my empty inventory it doesn't take too long.
After starting the Java app you're inworld immediately. As seasoned traveller I noticed a lack of advice. It took quite some time before I understood how to walk and move my camera. SpaceStage is no open world like Second Life, but has only 3 parts in this alpha stage (hotel, disco and lounge). It is quite easy to teleport to the various locations, but you can't walk from one to the other. It isn't clear to me yet how to change my appearance and buy stuff, so that'll have to wait for visit no. 3.
This one I'll wrap up with some of Tao's Thoughts:
"Asked about user generated content he (StageSpace CEO Fabien Röhlinger) said that it might come in the future but most likely only a special group of users will be able to create new items as their main intent seems to be to keep the environment controlled.

And that’s also part of the business model because the StageSpace version you can see on their website is only a demo. The main idea is to manage individual branded virtual worlds for their clients. They will manage hosting of the server, billing, registration and the like. Their clients will get a controlled and branded environment in which members of their communities can interact. If there is an existing community already they will also provide a single-signon method so that users can log into the 3d part with their normal username and password. They claim that they can setup an instance for one of their clients in 2-4 weeks depending on integration work."

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Mediacom Branders

A new arrival to Second Life is Mediacom, a global media buying and planning company with over $13 billion in billing and has over 100 offices in 80 countries worldwide.
It is one of the many Real Life branding companies making a move towards Second Life, and in this case, Mediacom is a player. The question is: "Do they understand how the game is played?"
I'm not sure they do. First of all, the sim is still in development mode (I'm guessing, since it's half empty). For bloggers like me its always nice to have sneak previews, but I'd rather see a complete build than a half finished one. In my opinion the island is open too soon.
The main venue is a square with a lot of basic white. The coloring does fith the corporate colors, so no remark there, it's just my fear of German Design Snowblindness is playing up again.

The main venue is set up in a square with a white path leading past the various stages. The path includes the location of all offices. There's a seminar room, an inforoom and some display stands.

Peculiar is the slogan behind the car (right) reading: "Building Brands in Second Life." If they live up to that call, time will tell.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Metaversed uncloackes

This week we saw a sudden change at Metaversed as its spiritual father 57 Miles and cowriter Onder Skall, from Second Life Games came out of the closet and revealed their true identities.

"Caleb and I have been talking about moving to our real names on the site for some time. It seems short sighted to use Second Life avatar names on a virtual worlds news site. Though there is a downside to diluting two fairly strong brands, I think it feels right. And that's good enough reason to do it.

You can see Caleb's profile here and my updated profile here if you're interested in our backgrounds, and find out more about Metaversed authors, including how to become one," according to Nick Wilson, f.k.a. 57 Miles.

Now how does this work out? 57 Miles is indeed a strong, known brand in Second Life after months of labor, spending too much time in Second Life and blogging like crazy.

For my part, I already knew 57's true identity, as it wasn't hard to get hold on. So nothing new to me personally. And I do like the real Nick. On the other hand it leaves you wonder on privacy on the web. I've mentioned Web 2.0 is getting hard to handle. This not only counts for keeping up with many sites, blogs, email accounts and IM's, but it sure is having an impact on managing your identity. Privacy in Web 2.0 or Web 3D is hard.

Managing your identity is hard, but keeping up appearances even harder. Just Google for VeeJay Burns and you're bound to stumble on my true identity sooner or later as well. I've wondered why Ian Hughes, IBM's metaverse guru was so open about his identities at the eightbar blog. The answer is obvious: If you know and use Google, it isn't hard to find out the truth anyway.

In short, if you're trying to protect your privacy, don't get into web 2.0 or web 3D at all ;)

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Blogwars !?

I was reading up on some other blogs and found out sometimes our allegiance switches. When it comes to Skynews I'm in line with Nic at KZero in liking it, contrary to Aleister.
When it comes to Comcast though, me and Al like it, and Nic doesn't. Now we're all pretty serious bloggers, so where's the switch? Why do you like a build, or why don't you, what makes you think a build will work, or not?

Here's a little comparative reading:

AL on Comcast : http://www.3pointd.com/20070605/comcast-parachutes-into-second-life/
AL on SkyNews: http://www.3pointd.com/20070605/can-sky-news-rise-to-second-life/
Nic on Comcast : http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=728
Nic on SkyNews: http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=658
Me on Comcast : http://blog.mindblizzard.com/2007/06/comcast-plugged-in-sl.html
Me on Skynews: http://blog.mindblizzard.com/2007/05/skynews-hits-virtual-sky.html

Obviously we have different tastes, and sometimes we like Rivers Run Red and not Millions of Us, or the other way around. But should that matter when it comes to judging a build. We should be able to go beyond that and spot the key elements for branding, for business integration and potential to actively engage the community.

It seems that it is a complex cocktail of several factors after all.

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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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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shop till you drop at Aarhof

Shoppingcentre Aarhof from Alphen a/d Rijn has it's virtual counterpart in SL. The shopzone itself looks a pretty decent job and contains lots of shops. Some smaller parts are not exactly designerwork... (like the cash register) but that doesn't matter.

Some major Dutch retailers now suddenly have a virtual outlet. I can imagine that a lingerie shop like Livera goes SL as lingerie is a desirable asset in SL. Same goes for clothing (e.g.) Didi, or the bookshop Bruna which also runs an online shop. I fail to see the use of a local bakery or butcher's in SL though. I can't order bread, nor can I eat it's virtual counterpart. Okay, presence and branding is one thing, setting up a business driven sim another.
The combination of an existing shoppingcenter with big brands in clothing and other possible virtual assets could have merit in its own. Yet the concept fails short because half of the outlets don't have right of existance in SL (yet).

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Aarhof/182/72/28

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PCM reviews Businesses at SL

It's wednesday, patchday. And as usually there is planned downtime. Well, scheduled maintenance. Linden blogs "scheduled maintenance postponed..." then suddenly while trying to log into SL it reads "scheduled maintenance *now* happening" which pretty much comes down to preponed?

Well, at least it gives me time to blog something about an article in the Dutch PCM (personal computer magazine). Roughly the article reads:

Businesses opening up virtual shop in SL do not meet consumer expectations. During daytime business sims are completely empty. The German micromanagement company Komjuniti did a poll among 200 SL residents on their expectations. 42% of those questioned do admit that the company's presence has a positive effect on their branding. However, businesses really fall short in treating virtual clients. Visitors want to communicate

PCM ends the article with a nice overview of visitors of Dutch Business Sims during lunchtime ;)
Well... Who didn't. While I was looking around I did a google search as the PCM names the shopping centre Aarhaf. I also saw several blog blindly copied the intel and never did a data integrity check. It's Aarhof ;)

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Virtual Branding

If there's one business that has nothing to do in Second Life it's the alcoholindustry. While you can go to a virtual club in Second Life and sit at the bar and have some conversation or get crazy on the dancefloor, it seems pretty much a waste of time and effort to sit down and have a virtual whiskey: You don't taste it and the alcohol doesn't work.

Yet Diageo (fka United Distillers & Vintners), one of the worlds leading alcohol conglomerates has stepped into Second Life with "the Bar" This is yet another medium for them to support their website http://www.thebar.com. Drinks might be of no real use in the Metaverse, but people spending hours a day -in the evening- on Second Life probably get thirsty. So be seen where your consumers look is Diageo's credo in this one making The Bar an example of virtual branding.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Sony Ericson

Just 3 blocks away from Second Life's Amsterdam you'll find the Sony Ericson sim. On the one hand SL-Amsterdam is not really the type of sim a bonafide corp would want to have as a neighbour, but on the other hand it does provide an enourmous amount of traffic.

For people looking on the map for Amsterdam, the Sony Ericson sim is hard to miss.

The SE sim itself is not fully exploited as most big-corp-sims, just one small shop stands amid tropical flora. Clean info-desks inform you of SE's latest gadgets and the good old "Finish the following sentence..." competition found its way into SL, giving visitors the chance of winning an SE W880i phone.

Deadcenter is a dancefloor in SE Logo format, with a DJ table next to it. Well, you be the virtual jockey (the VJ ?) and choose from the huge collection of records hovering over the dancefloor.

From a design point of view it's a small and clean design without much sticky content.
Certainly SE has jumped on the hype and wanted presence without much understanding of this virtual world. We'll give them credit for being in time to catch the hype-ride earlier this year but I do hope they're actively thinking on major redecoration in the near future.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sony%20Ericsson/128/128/0
The SE sim lies close to most Rivers Run Red projects, so they've probably had a hand in this one too.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Virtual Banking (2): ING and Our Virtual Holland

At the Media Plaza Second Life seminar Gertjan Kaaij, Business Innovator of the ING held a presentation about ING in Second Life.... well, not exactly. The Dutch baking and insurance company ING they started cruising the virtual worlds in late 2006, but did not see a ROI on short term.

So there wasn't a big ING hit to launch, then what else to do? For the time being, ING uses SL mainly as a branding medium. They've hired Rivers Run Red to build a region of sims called "Our Virtual Holland"

The plan is for Our Virtual Holland to evolve into a virtual mini-state, and to this end they have been offering free parcels of land to would-be residents. Don't all rush to the website though - the offer closed on 21st March. Rather than churn out all the details here, I would refer you to this page of their website, which tells you everything you need to know (if not, try their FAQ). As is usual with SL that magic word for 2007, "Innovation", looms large. I will be interested to see what emerges. Certainly the pittoresque windmills will add to that innovative spirit...

At the moment ING is working with partners like the Rijksmuseum to add some spirit to the sims.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Holland/128/128/0
Pictures kindly provided by Sir Aleister Kronos

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Virtual Weather

Is there anything more exciting than talking about the weather? Being Dutch, the usual talk about the weatherconditions is kinda boring. I'm tired of all those rainy days, I hate cold and can't wait for summer to kick in (though preferably without tropical temperatures.

Alas, I can't control Real Life weather, but on the Epic Condition sims, extreme weather is a challenge!

So what's it all about? Well, Epic Conditions is a new show from the Weather Channel, that describes itself as "your daily shot of weather adrenaline!" The programme airs on the Weather Channel every Sunday at 9:00pm ET/PT from March 4th to April 1, which, if I'm not mistaken, makes it rather less than a daily shot of weather adrenaline.

The concept of the show is to tie extreme sports to weather information - a laudable aim, though whether it will drag in the punters is another matter. And so to the SL island. In effect,the island is divided into 5 zones - one per sim.The hub is the main Weather sim, with a reception area, a number of video screens and links off to webpages. To the West of this is the Surf zone, where you can sit by a beach bar and watch surfers play among the mighty waves that crash majestically onto the shore. At least, I assume that's the theory. Unfortunately, owing to the limitations of the SL programming environment these look less like waves, and more like giant blue mittens, pawing their way towards you. Somewhere along the line, my adrenaline level dropped off, and I took advantage of the lifeguard's chair to have a Hasselhoff Moment to myself.

Special thanks to Aleister Kronos.

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