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Second life- getting beyond brand pr

May 7, 2007

Many brands jumped onto Second Life because of the PR impact; there was a time when a mere appearance in the virtual world guaranteed a story. Brands were attracted because for limited out of pocket they could break through and garner attention. Obviously, things have moved on a little and the PR impact is no longer there, so brands need to consider a strategy for SL.

Starwood is one company that’s always been thinking of SL as something more than PR. The company has been using SL to test out its new aloft concept and get feedback on improvements. Quite simply, it’s been using it as a research tool.

Tomorrow, Starwood is introducing a new version of aloft on Second Life, based on the suggestions from Second Life residents. These are pretty smart and practical suggestions and include:

–    Radios in the showers
–    Additional lobby seating
–    Local art on the walls of the lobby

In addition, Starwood is going to donate the land from the hotel, once this project is done, to a member of the Second Life community. All people have to do is send in a best use suggestion in 500 words or less.

Second Life has been bashed in the media in the last couple of months with a consequence that many media planners are taking it off their schedules. Clearly, Second Life is not a brand launch play; it’s an environment to test out new ideas and to have a permanent brand presence. This should be about a short-term idea to support an ad campaign, but it needs to be considered within the context of long-term brand strategy.

Influx readers will get the chance to learn more about the future of brands in Second Life at the Influx Ideas 07 conference. Rueben Steiger, the founder of Millions of Us, one of the leading creators of Second Life environments, will be one of our speakers.
 

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