Intel, who’s a client for video and audio podcasts, took me on a tour of their newest addition to their Second Life island. This was a true brand experience, that infused the Intel message with a quest to find three parts; A jet pack, and two Intel chips to power it. Why jetpacks? They represent speed, agility, and flexibility. Those who complete the quest can use this jetpack to fly higher than most and fly quickly through Second Life , for geeks like me, it’s bragging rights for the second world and first.
Tim who focuses on the gaming market at Intel toured myself, Adam who’s reporting from Reuters. (You know Reuters is taking Second Life seriously), and a few others.
This “Journey to the heart of Intel Island” was unlike other simulations, it was multi-dimensional. There are elevators that let users move down several layers underground, as well as above a strategically placed tower. You’ll find cross branding events with Orange County Choppers, and a virtual music concert. At one concert hall you can watch videos of the multiply yourself campaign, but this time it features Second Life avatars, great cross-over.
The experience is rich as flying laptops are pets, they provide additional on-brand messages and quest tips.
There are multiple venues to explore in the simulation, from an underground life size chip, to a conference area, to a concert area, this is a multi-purpose environment. What’s most interesting is that Second Life citizens will have to ask a jetpack owner where they got the jetpack, it’s a brilliant word-of-mouth campaign. But don’t ask me for tips, you gotta give it your own try, for some it will take some time to find the pieces, (maybe even 30 minutes) but it’s emotionally satisfying when you earn it.
Thanks Intel, and MRM Worldwide/McCann Erickson (Updated July 25th: I forgot to include some of the folks who helped out on this) who was the agency who developed the Island along with developers Millions of Us. Ogilvy, the PR agency and Intel invited me for the sneak preview when the doors opened at 9am today. This was a unique interactive brand quest that left me feeling that by getting the chips would empower the virtual experience better, it make sense.
I was asked for my feedback, and I said it would be interesting if the simulation would create a floating island high above that’s only accessible by the jet pack. Heck, take me to the moon or a new planet!
If you’re a corporation in SecondLife, I’d love to hear about it, let me know, my email address is on the top right.
The Private Tour starts
Tie ins with Orange County Choppers
Just got my jetpack, but it’s unpowered
Getting on elevator
Second Life avatars dance to “mutliply yourself”, very clever cross-branding
Deep inside the Island, this is one of the first simulations to be multi-level
Concert Hall and Auditorium
Yes, I got the final chip, and my jetpack is powered (notice full green bars on pack)
I’ve seen a few corporate Second Life islands, this one is well thought out and is a good example of opt-in brand immersion, for corporations that want to enter this space, take note, this is a good case study.
Robert has interviewed James Au, an embedded reporter in Second Life. I know many corporate folks who are creating new islands (that means buying a server) and building up virtual worlds. But before you invest in Second Life, be sure to understand the medium you’re getting into so you can fully harness it’s features and abilities.
People connect in intersting ways, and build unique lands, there are many opportunities for marketers and corporations to engage customers in new and unique ways.
Check out their four part in-depth series on Second Life.
There’s been a lot of hype over companies in 2006 “announcing” events and products via SecondLife’s Shinyness. Even an Agency Crayon was launched inside of SecondLife.
What’s a MMORPG?
If you’re not familiar with SecondLife it’s a downloadable application that let’s users interact in a virtual context, select clothes, build worlds, and explore. Some corporations are purchasing “Islands” which are fully contained experiences that in the physical world require the purchase of a server. Let’s take a glimpse at companies that are still practicing in Massive Multi Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG)
Top Brands build in SecondLife
Computer World reports these top brands still have a heavy presence in SecondLife: 1. IBM, 2. Pontiac, 3. Sun Microsystems Inc., 4. Dell Inc., 5. Reuters, 6. Cisco Systems Inc., 7. H&R Block, 8. Best Buy Geek Squad
The audience is there?
Not sure why Microsoft wasn’t on this list, they’ seem to be doing something interesting with this mysterious blimp (video). Even Amazon Webservices realizes that their developer audience loves to create and play, and even intentionally placed their island near IBM.
Although limited, there’s many risks associated with SecondLife, from subvert attacks, to ‘rape’ crimes that seem to hit the news in this new space. Aside from these human risks, to me, SecondLife has many barriers to entry: 1) Decent Bandwidth, 2) Downloadable application, 3) Knowledge and ability to use advanced user interface tools
Alternatives to SecondLife
SecondLife is NOT the only platform out there. Wells Fargo has been playing with ActiveWorlds for their StageCoach Island for some time (2005). WSJ reports Walls Fargo as being a fairly sophisticated Financial Institution that has embraced Social Media and the new toolsets. I’m sure future generations will connect and understand this more than any other demographic.
Other Worlds to explore
What’s next? If it were open to cross pollination, I’d start looking at World of Warcraft and other games, especially if one is focused at the IT market, what do you think your sys admin really do in those ‘meetings’? Apparently, as close as a corporation can get is to co-brand a Credit Card that provides gaming credits to play online. Imagine that, pay for play as Visa partners with Blizzard.
3pointD provides running news and editorial over these virtual lands
Second Life Herald: SL news, from independent view
Reuters has setup an official Second Life Beat (via colleague Catherine at PodTech)
Active Worlds (alternative to Second Life) official homepage
I can’t wait to see the resumes of the future: Island Builder: 2 years active SecondLife development for marketing program support.
Techcrunch reports that Dell is going to announce something in SecondLife. It doesn’t really matter what it is they announce, but the fact that they’re using SecondLife like Sun, Edelman, and others are is likely the primary motivation. Brian has identified SL as the next shiny object, should WebEx be worried?
Some journalists are annoyed they have to create new user accounts and register.
“but one journalist, annoyed that he is being forced to create a Second Life account and log in to see what the announcement is, decided to just pass it on to us to break the news.”
That’s only half of it, as you’ll have to download the application, or make sure you’ve the current version to visit. Yes, there are barriers to instantly joining second life. In past events, the headcount was been limited, and Martin McKeay had troubles getting into the last Sun announcement…more barriers.
My recommendations is to encourage Linden labs to create a feature that lets anyone follow a host, or zip around as a non-interactive ‘shadow’ or ‘ghost’ without registering or logging in. Double bonus points if one doesn’t have to login. Perhaps Flash MX could serve something like this.
Linden labs, please lower the barriers to ‘view’ so more can contribute, this is the time to show the world.
Update: Even IBM is getting in on the Secondlife action.
My usage of Second life has weened, however I’m still keeping an eye on stuff, here’s some interesting recent tidbits of Second Life:
This video caught my eye of Steve Rubel discussing how PR and Marketing and Media folks are now engaging in Second Life. I’ve played with Second Life and still see it as emerging –haven’t touched in a while, may return later. It’s still interesting how Steve mentions how PR is not about controlling the message, but being involved in a dialogue –give up some control to gain a lot more. The same practice he’s applying to second life is what he preached about blogging.
There are so many websites/mediums to explore, it’s simply difficult to see them all. Don’t know what Second life is? Start here –or listen to my tour. Steve Rubel is one of the top PR bloggers in the world and works at the famous Edelman PR firm –he has a blog called Micropersuasions that is a ‘must-subscribe’ if you’re in that industy. I met Steve in SF during a blogger dinner a few months ago –he had this to say.