Democrats Googlebomb Opponents

"Fifty or so other Republican candidates have been made targets in a sophisticated "Google bombing" campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results."
-- NY Times. More details at

Unisys Targets Execs With Personalized Magazine Covers

Here's advertising that borders on stalking, or maybe it's one of those a life-imitates-art things inspired by the The Minority Report. It's also something I actually suggested five years ago when I was working in a B2B company.

WSJ: "Around 20 high-ranking executives at corporations such as Subaru of America, DHL, Citigroup and Northwest Airlines will get a surprise when Fortune magazine arrives on their desks this week. Each will find his or her own face gracing the cover. The covers are one-of-a-kind mock-ups wrapping the actual Fortune edition. Unisys is sending the magazines to get the attention of executives -- mostly chief information officers -- responsible for making buying decisions about their companies' technology products and services.

To reinforce the message, Unisys is placing billboards and outdoor signs -- albeit without information-chief portraits -- close to the executives' offices. Some ads will even appear on video screens in the elevators of their office buildings.

To guarantee the executives in question would see the billboards erected near their offices, field teams from PHD tried to figure out how they might commute to work. In some cases, such as around Citigroup's building on Lexington Avenue in New York, PHD staffers even scoped out local coffee shops and eateries to see where an executive might grab a sandwich."
-- via AdJab

Product Placement in Consumer-Generated Videos

Ha! This could well be the monetization model everyone's been looking for, if the technology is robust enough. The system is a lot like the green interactive dots in the Shai videos, but work with other type of content besides porn.

ClickZ writes: "Entertainment Media Works, a media firm specializing in product placement, plans to enable "plinking," or product linking, in consumer-generated media. Early plans include revenue shares for content creators. Plinking is the process of adding a product or service link to a visible object or image in a video. When deployed, it will have an interface for users to upload and tag video. Users will freeze a single frame and define an area where the product is located. It can be any product from an iPod to particular jacket or pair of jeans. Once tagged, the item will be clickable throughout the runtime of the video, and will link to an e-commerce page."

The best part: " Under EMW's plans, content viewers and user communities will be able to take existing video and add links for a piece of the revenue share."

There are questions. Would YouTube allow others to plink (nice buzzword, btw) the videos on its servers without getting a cut? Could plinks turn into a horrible automated spam tool that will ruin the videos? But the idea is a very bright one, regardless.

Nissan Puts Sentra Into Second Life

Nissan has just unveiled a Second Life extension of its campaign for Sentra. Here's the location's SL URL, and here are more details from Giff at Electric Sheep. I spent a few minutes on the sim before it went down as developers were apparently adding final touches, but here's what I saw:

A giant vending machine with very realistic action. The machine dispenses Sentras.

The car itself. Apparently customizable (although I am yet to figure how exactly) and driveable (ditto).

A decorative public bathroom. Haven't seen one before in SL, although this one was closed. Nice touch. There's also a driving course and a giant loop, but then the sim crashed so I don't have any pics.

Amazon Exec on Virtual World Shopping

Jeff Barr, web services evangelist at Amazon: "You can imagine a Second Life build where you have a concert or a musician that’s just done a live performance, or maybe an author who has done a book reading. Just as you’d walk out of a venue in real life and buy a book or a T-shirt or a CD, now you have the same ability in the virtual world — it’s contextual commerce. People love to do things that stay within the metaphor. So if you can say in character and if you’re essentially doing your shopping in avatar scale, that seems to maintain the quality of the experience."
-- Reuters

Future Media: Pencil TV

This is so good that I have to post it verbatim: "The Future of TV is here! Sharp Pencil Quality TV, brought to you by loving crew of Stane's Island. Download, print and assemble one of our readymade DIY kits and enjoy your fav flicks, over and over, any time you please. Break away from the tyranny of broadcast TV. TV on demand now!"

Glue, scissors, two pencils and a roll of movie frames. Dev kit included.
-- via Gizmodo

Pepsi Promotes Diet Jazz With Multisensory Print

Pepsi promotes its new Diet Pepsi Jazz drink with a print campaing that "uses sight, sound and scent to entice readers. The front of the ad shows a hand twisting off a bottle top and the word "Introducing." Open the ad and not only does a Pepsi bottle and music notes jump to life, jazz music from the TV ad starts playing. The back page of the ad is a scratch and sniff insert for the Black Cherry French Vanilla flavor." Ran in People magazine Oct 16 issue, NY and LA editions.
-- Media Post via chroma

Art-O-Meter Measures Art Popularity in Museums

MIT Media Labman came up with Art-o-Meter -- a system apparently equipped with motion detector that counts how much time people spend in front of an art piece. From the site: "Art-O-Meter is a device that measures the quality of an art piece. It bases its evaluation on the amount of time that people spend in front of an artwork compared to the total time of exhibition. The measurements are graphically represented by comments and a 5 star rating system." Not sure about the quality of art -- what if people are staring at something else? -- but are you thinking what I'm thinking? With this device, you can measure a lot of things about a store layout, from the windows to cash registers.
-- via we make money not art

Offtopic: What to Do in Toronto?

I've never been to Toronto but that's about to change. Flying there next weekend on a short break, but have no idea where to go once I free up. I know I kinda wanna see ROM, and definitely the Stella Trap (pictured above; any idea what the exact address is?), but little else. Are any of those crazy Mini billboards still up? Any ad/media museums? Any other Canadian ad shrines? What are the good places to go at night, by the way? Comments are open below, or write directly. Much appreciated.

Nielsen To Track Video Games

"Nielsen Media Research on Wednesday announced an electronic rating service to track who is playing what game. The data will be collected from the same 10,000 sample households used for Nielsen's television ratings. Subscribers such as advertisers and video game makers will get a weekly ratings reports and charts showing the most popular games, as well as information about the type of console and the genre of the game. Jeff Herrmann, vice president of Nielsen's wireless and interactive services division, said he expects the system will drive advertising investment and help convert video game advertising from discretionary to essential."
-- AP, press release

Marketers Plant Ads Into Songs Shared on P2P Networks

"Now there's a growing recognition among some record executives and performers that the people who are downloading illegally are frequently huge music fans and that marketing to them may be more desirable in the long run than suing or otherwise harassing them. By inserting promotional material into the decoy files, and then planting those files prominently on file-sharing sites, record labels and other marketers can turn what is now an antipiracy tool into an advertising medium.

Right now, only about 1% of the decoy files on peer-to-peer sites include promotions or ads, but the potential audience is huge."

-- WSJ, Oct. 18, 2006, "Record Labels Turn Piracy
Into a Marketing Opportunity" (in case you need to look it up after the subscription curtain falls)

Featured companies:
Spark Art
Media Defender

What Is The Sound of Your Brand?

"When I say ‘brand sound’, I am not talking about what tends to be the most obvious characterization of music as branding – the selection of a compelling song or soundtrack that appears on the TV commercial. I’m talking about something that in my experience very few people consider – the idea that the strategic and creative development process for brand marketing should involve, right from the get-go, a strategic approach to defining what the brand should sound like, and an actual sound/music strategy that then feeds into the auditory component of every single experience of the brand."
-- Cindy Gallop on Adotas

Marketers Should Create Multisensory Campaigns

IHT: Nissan Readies Entry into Second Life

"Meanwhile, Nissan is starting a promotion for its Sentra that allows Second Lifers to get their own digital versions of the car out of a gigantic vending machine and drive them around. Much of this is likely to be covered for the outside world by the news outlets CNET and Reuters, which now have reporters embedded full-time in the virtual realm."

International Herald Tribune, "Virtual worlds are moving toward commercial reality", Richard Siklos, October 18, 2006

New Book: How to Spread Rumors and Gossip

I heard that there's a new book called Rumor Psychology and that it talks about the difference between rumor and gossip and how their accuracy depends on particular circumstances. In a nutshell, "expert rumor researchers Nicholas DiFonzo and Prashant Bordia investigate how rumors start and spread, the accuracy of different types of rumor, and how rumors can be controlled, particularly given their propagation across media outlets and within organizations."

NFL, Too, Invites Viewers to Create Superbowl Ad

"The NFL wants you! The NFL is going to make the best Super Bowl commercial ever and this is the fans' chance to make that happen. This fall, you the fans, can pitch us your idea for the best NFL Super Bowl commercial ever. The winning pitch may be produced into a TV commercial that will air during Super Bowl XLI to be seen by millions of people! "
-- NFL SuperAd

So it's the NFL, Chevy, and Doritos now. Feels a bit like the last year's Million Dollar Home Page craze. Gotta love the whale-watching metaphor. The funny thing is, if the ads come out bad, then it will be the respective agencies' fault. If they come out good, then who needs the agencies?

New Bravia Ad and Managing Expectations

Fallon and Sony finally released the "Paint" spot for Bravia -- one of the most anticipated commercials on my memory that follows the wildly successfull "Bouncing Balls" spot. It's a great ad, no doubt. The question is whether they should've blogged about it in advance. Teasing is one thing. Putting up awesome pictures and building up everyone's expectations is another. The blog will definitely attract crowds to the spot, but now "Paint" has to fight an uphill battle of being compared not only to competition, not only to the original superb "Balls", but also against everybody's own idea of what the spot should've become.

But I'm just thinking out loud here. The clown is lovely. The ad, as I said, is great. Bob Garfield likes it, too. Speaking of Bob Garfield, here's an interesting piece of trivia from his review:

"The real genius of "Balls" was to defeat the structural problem that had forever crippled TV advertising for TVs: the picture is only as good as the set you're viewing at the time. Even if the advertised product is superior, the superiority can't be conveyed. Unless.

Unless you use visual shorthand, and photograph bold primary and secondary colors under the most dramatic and unusual circumstances you can think of -- and as translucently as possible. Those colors break through on even the crappiest set, with all credit (maybe unfairly) going to the advertiser. Wow. How often is an idea literally brilliant?"

Update (an hour later): The first comment is in and it's a thumb down. I'm opening comments directly under this post, then.

Nivea Gets Products Into Splinter Cell: Double Agent

"Nivea Does Video Game Tie-In with 'Splinter Cell'" October 16, Enid Burns, ClickZ. The game is brand new, so no good screenshots yet. Quotes from the article:

"Nivea's first foray into in-game product placement injects its products into the covert world of Sam Fisher, the spy in UbiSoft's "Splinter Cell: Double Agent." The media buy includes product integration, static and dynamic placements, plus out-of-game ads. The marketing program features products from both Nivea and its partner in shaving, Philips Norelco, in a game space hotel bathroom. Beiersdorf agency RDA International conceived the creative to integrate with the game's themes.

The in-game media buy [...] extends across online and offline channels. Nivea created a microsite, to which all ads in the game and the Internet link. It offers information on Nivea products; Philips Norelco products using Nivea creams[.]

Offline tie-ins include inserts in each retail box of the game which hypes the sweepstakes. The company also bought a print ad in the game's strategy guide published by Prima. The creative features a bottle of after shave made to look like a hand grenade with the message 'Balms away.'"

Reuters Opens News Center on Second Life

US Dollars spent in Second Life over last 24 hours
$411,726 as of 7:00am PDT. Source: Reuters.

Reuters opened an online center that covers news from Second Life with interviews, charts and everything. Their lead story today is on Congress launching a probe into virtual economies. If you are not familiar with the issue, Julian Dibbell wrote a big article in Legal Affairs last winter: "You probably haven't wondered whether the United States government will someday tax your virtual winnings from games played over the Internet. The real question is, Why hasn't it happened already?"

They should count Second Life as a separate voting district, too. No taxation without representation.
-- via Guardian. NY Times interviews the Reuters SL bureau chief.

Event: Kick-Ass "Futures of Entertainment" Conference at MIT

MIT's Convergence Culture Consortium is putting together an unbelievable conference on Futures of Entertainment that is planned for Nov 17-18 in Cambridge, MA.

Check out the list of speakers: "The event is designed to bring together leading thinkers from across the entertainment industry to speak about core issues around media convergence, transmedia storytelling, user-generated content, and participatory culture. Speakers confirmed so far include The Long Tail's Chris Anderson, Flickr's Caterina Fake, DC Comic's Paul Levitz, Warner Brother's Diane Nelson, Big Spaceship's Michael Lebowitz, social networking researcher danah boyd, television scholar Jason Mittell, and many others, including representatives from MTV, Cartoon Network, Bioware, and other leading companies in this space."

It's free -- as in beer -- but you have to preregister fast because there are only so many seats.

Reebok's Store in Second Life

A few links and reminders first. Chris "Long Tail" Anderson spoke in Second Life today and I posted parts of the transcipt here. Starwood's Aloft is throwing a launch party for its Second Life hotel and here's the announcement (via Electric Sheep). If you haven't seen the new hotel yet, I posted a review a few days ago. If you are new to this blog and are wondering why I'm devoting so much space to Second Life, here's an even bigger piece of writing -- an entire thesis -- on in-game advertising.

And this is our feature presentation. Everyone knows that Adidas launched a store last month in Second Life (details here), but on October 3 the other part of Reebok-Adidas went virtual. Somehow it flew under the radar of the industry preoccupied with the announcements about the two ad agencies opening SL branches, but apparently quite a few SL observers have already posted about the new Reebok store (reBang, for example, and Brand Republic saw it coming, too). The Second Life Liberation Army has already conducted an operation against the new establishment.

Just like Adidas's, Reebok's store is an SL extension of a particular campaign. RBK Custom is similar to Nike iD in that it allows customers to customize their kicks, and Reebok's SL store, just like the website, is built to demonstrate that particular quality.

Like every other brand structure before it, Reebok store sits on its own Reebok island. Unlike other islands, Reebok's is set up, I imagine, to recreate the brand's real-life style (feel?) so the entire brand experience begins as soon as you land. The island is decorated with a delapidated urban grid with lovely public-housing-looking apartment buildings and a couple of basketball courts.

The courts, of course, are branded. The utterly empty city is very ghost-like as if it has just survived a nuclear fallout.

The streets are named to honor Reebok's spokespeople.

I guess the same can be said for the streets, but the parking lot looks particularly weird. It's a parking lot that is destined to remain empty forever because in SL no one is driving (well, NASCAR racers and other enthusiasts do, but they usually don't drive to shop).

Inside you'll find what has already become a typical commercial SL interior.

The store sells blank Reebok sneakers...

... that come in four different sizes. All for L$ 50 (1/6 of a dollar).

This is the extra large size.

To customize the shoes, you take them to the coloring machines and read the posters with instructions.

The interface is really interesting although it takes some time to get used to. You press the arrows to highlight a particular part of the shoe you want to color, then select the color you want. When you are happy with the result, you pay another L$ 5 to get the design transferred to your shoes. The machine doesn't color all the shoe sizes you have, only the one you are wearing at the moment.

The lack of any fashion sense aside, I'm happy with my custom Reeboks.

Hijacking Virtual Brand Space

The title here is a bit too dramatic, but it does illustrate a potentially much larger problem than the glitch at the Sun's new pavilion (it opened today in SL with a press conference; Millions of Us has more details and pics). After everybody had left, someone dropped a couple of betting balls on the premises, apparently counting on the post-event traffic. Earlier, Second Life Liberation Army picketed the American Apparel store to attract attention to its cause.

Duh: Mobile Phones Are Voice-Centric Media

You could put moving images on a newspaper or static text on television. You could, but it will be either prohibitively expensive or not an optimal utilization of the medium's potential (what a mouthful). I keep wondering why people are trying to milk cell phones' marginal functionalities - camera, short text, games - while totally overlooking the thing the phones do best - voice. Well, it turns out the common sense is about to arrive.

From MoCo News: "Some players are lining up to harness the number one no-brainer input method: human voice. Verizon Wireless recently teamed up with Medio Systems, a white-label search provider, for a mobile search scheme that - among other things – allows consumers to use voice to find and purchase content on the operator portal. The New York Times reports Cingular Wireless and Tellme Networks, a provider of automated directory services, have joined to plan a 411 information service beginning in 2007 that will use Tellme’s voice recognition technology to enhance mobile search.

Kelsey's Group latest report argues the voice search market is 'poised for a major explosion in growth initiated by emerging free directory assistance (DA) players and catalyzed by the inevitable entry of at least one search portal by 2007.'"

Yes, voice recognition is not quite there yet and neither is the quality of phones' sound, but you can easily think of many other applications. How about having a phone number that people can call in to listen to your blog that was text-to-speeched into a podcast?

Soundbite of The Week

"Insects do not deserve to be eaten alive especially for a gratuitous marketing gimmick."

PETA spokeswoman Jackie Vergerio in an interview to Reuters about Six Flags' promotional contest that includes eating Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

Industry Press Warms Up to In-Game Ads

Judging by the growing number of media clippings on the subject, I'm afraid in-game ads are turning into the next shiny thing.

"Agency Avatars," AdWeek, October 9, 2006, Eleftheria Parpis. Quote from Leo's chief creator Mark Tutssel: "This is right on the edge of a new space."

"Virtual Worlds: The Next Realm in Advertising?" Brand Channel, Bill Nissim, undated (Sept 2006?)

"Video Games Now a Social Experience," Ad Age, Gavin O'Malley, October 5, 2006

"Leo Burnett Buys Space in Virtual World," Ad Age, Jeremy Mullman, September 28, 2006

"Advergaming: You Got It," Business Week, David Radd, October 10, 2006

First Look at the Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Office in Second Life

Yes, so we know that Leo Burnett and Bartle Bogle Hegarty -- two ad agencies, for the outsiders -- announced expansion into Second Life. Leo's future home is marked with a tree, and I just managed to sneak into BBH's new island (it was locked a week ago when I last checked) and take a few snapshots. I have to say that I find it increasingly harder to write these reviews, however brief they are. I'm not an architecture critic (but here's one reviewing SL builds) and there's little yet to talk about besides all these beautiful buildings. In case of Starwood's aloft hotel, showing off the building is the whole point, but sometimes I wish that as much imagination went into the functionality of the place as in its aesthetics.

Anyway, BBH's SL office sits on a separate island. On the forefront, you see a small chillout area, a small glass cube of yet to be discovered purpose, and two larger buildings -- the "offices" (right) and an "auditorium". Notably, the structures have no roof, which makes it very convenient to fly in. I've never understood why build public buildings with walls in the first place (at least use "phantoms" so that people wouldn't have to bump into corners looking for the doors), but rooflessness is a good first step.

This is the said chillout area. I think it has a video wall that shows off agency's work.

A patio between the two main buildings equipped with tables and benches. Very sunny. If you look hard enough, you'll see my new suit.

This is their auditorium with a podium and a video wall behind it. An interesting design dilemma: how many chairs do you put in a place like this given that under the current system the server that hosts the island can barely accommodate only about 50 simultaneous connections? Why have chairs at all?

This is the "office" building. The pillars have some of the agency's work on display.

What's an ad agency without a fully stocked bar?

Yahoo Collects User Content for Time Capsule

"Yahoo today announced the launch of what is expected to be the world’s largest time capsule in history. Starting today, Yahoo! is encouraging people from around the world to contribute personal photos, stories, thoughts, ideas, poems, prayers, home movies, music and art to an online anthropology project designed to celebrate and understand life and global culture in 2006. Content from the time capsule will be broadcast directly onto the 216-foot tall Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan and sent into space through a light beam from the historic monument."
-- press release

By the way, I had no idea there was an entire industry making and servicing time capsules.

Sun Microsystems Opens Pavilion in Second Life

"Sun Microsystems will launch its presence in the virtual world Second Life, holding the first 'in-world' press conference by a Fortune 500 company at the opening of the company's new virtual Sun Pavilion. [Sun Chief Researcher John] Gage, appearing in avatar form, will discuss the purpose and goals of Sun's foray into Second Life. He'll address the opportunities for experimentation with new forms of communication, collaboration and economic activity in the virtual world. Chris Melissinos, Sun's chief gaming officer, will also speak during the event.

After a question-and-answer session, attendees will be welcomed to tour the Sun facility and engage in informal discussion with Gage and Melissinos. Visitors will be able to view an exhibit of video kiosks, highlighting recent Sun innovations, events and Sun customer projects." -- press release

The event will be held on Wednesday, October 10, at 1pm EST in Sun Pavilion 182, 144, 55. As promised in the press release, the access is restricted "prior to the event" so I couldn't sneak in. Here's a bit more info from Millions of Us that built the project.

See? Companies are already trying to get the "first" angle for their press releases. It's "first Fortune 500 company" and "first advertising agency", then it will be "first sugar water maker", or "first plumbing contractor." Yeah, and sorry for hogging all the blog space with the Second Life stuff. I know it belongs at Brands in Games, but it seems I can't post pictures there since it's hosted on my own server (hello, Google). That said, next I'll post snapshots from BBH's new SL office that just opened to general public.

Fiat Advertises With Interactive Movie in Brazilian Theaters

Brazil's Agencia Click created an interactive movie for Fiat that was shown in the country's theaters. The six-minute-long interactive movie is in the "choose you own adventure" style and generates 16 different endings. The interactive part comes when the audience is invited to answer on-screen questions by texting answers to a number. The final version of the movie is compiled from the clips that gather the most votes. The campaign site (in Portuguese) is here.
-- thanks, Ricardo

Lego Ice-Cube Maker

A little illustration from Trend Hunter on integration of brands into culture: an ice tray that produces Lego cubes. Elegant and brilliant.

Forbes on Advertising and Porn

Trendhunter wrote in to point out Marc Babej's latest column in Forbes about how Madison Ave embraces pornography. He sites a few interesting examples, among which is the Shai video and concludes by saying that "for fashion or lifestyle brands with well-defined audiences, X-rated ads may well be worth the risk."

I posted about Shai porn failing to move goods before, but a quick reminder here: the degree to which an ad can incorporate porn it's not only about brand image and how well a particular porn execution fits the boundaries of popular tolerance. It's also about a simple fact that when people are excited by the nakedness they tend to overlook the brand message.

Online Celebrities in Ad Campaigns

I kept wondering whether those online celebrities with insane (but short-lived) popularity were ever contacted for commercial endorsements. Turns out, Gary "Numa-Numa" Brolsma is promoting an indie band and sells ringtones, World of Warcraft's Leeroy Jenkins will appear on a trading card, Mahir "I Kiss You" Cagri was paid by to appear in promo events, and now LonelyGirl15 was contracted by Y&R to do a PSA (see on YouTube) for the United Nations. There are still plenty more left.

Scientist Invents Condom That Plays Music

This gives an entirely new meaning to music sharing (hey, baby, wanna download some tunes?):

"A Ukrainian scientist Hryhory Chausovsky has invented a condom that plays music during sex. A miniature loudspeaker and motion sensor implanted in the condom's upper cuff provides a range of musical tones during sex. Music volume depends on intensity of love-making and tone varies based on the sexual position. Testing has shown no danger of electric shock to users of the device." (The Star via OhGizmo)

Here's your next new medium: free ad-supported music condoms distributed in high schools and colleges to capture the "coveted" 18-25 demo. "This orgasm was brought to you by. . ." Powerful, very powerful.

Google Buys YouTube: Now What?

So, Google did buy YouTube for $1.65B and here's the steaming-fresh press release. I guess we will see more of the Google's contextual video ads on the site now, but it would be fun to watch how Google tries to solve this particular usability problem.

It will also be interesting to see whether this purchase leads to new attempts by Google to get into the TV ad business. On the one hand, some of (now) its content pulls higher ratings than cable or networks. On the other hand, if Google figures out a way to ease the user burden of finding quality material, the package similar videos through a learning matching algorithm into seamless channel-like streams, and then make these new channels available on regular TV screens through DVRs or set-top boxes, then we have a TV player mightier than anyone else on the market.

In other words, all Google needs to do is to take the wealth of online video content and put it in the 10-foot environment -- the living room -- while making sure the viewer feels no difference between wathing Google TV and regular programming, and then suddenly the range of available channels jumps from 200 to tens of thousands, and Google controls almost all of it.

Starwood's Aloft Hotel in Second Life: First Impressions

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has been building an SL model of its upcoming Aloft hotel and last week the word got out that the place was open for visitors. Since the company itself has been blogging in great detail about the project's progress at and YesButNoButYes beat me by a week to the pictures, I'll only write about a few small things I found peculiar about this particular branded build.

So yes, the hotel does look great. Like other ad builds, it sits on a private island and is surrounded by an invisible wall so there's no direct non-TP communication with the mainland.

Empty hotel lobbies give me creeps ever since I saw The Shining.

A lovely touch -- a coffee-table art book that consists of the best Snapzilla pics. Wonder if the pictures are pulled onto the pages dynamically, so that you can always have the most recent issue.

A monitor that upon touch offers to open the hotel's web page (in a real browser window).

There's this strange vending machine that spews out Aloft-branded headphones. Couldn't figure why.

Will the real Aloft sell self-branded mineral water? Why is the orange juice is labeled simply Orange Juice?

There are quite a few floors in the hotel but the elevators are not running (the button looked pushed). I don't think you can really go up beyond the first floor at all. Wonder what the empty space looks like, though.

Another nice touch: a recent copy of the SL Business magazine.

That's a really big bed.

Interesting choice of magazine textures: Ready Made and Real Simple (both fixer-upper magazines). Besides, the guy who lives next door wears the same shirt. Or maybe this guy booked two rooms. Or maybe Aloft gives away Gap-looking shirts as pajamas.

If you read Business Week, you'll find out that "for Starwood, opening aloft in Second Life is a way to test-market the hotel's design and rapidly prototype the evolving concept. For instance, staffers will observe how people move through the space, what areas and types of furniture they gravitate towards, and what they ignore."

Two Resident Articles on Marketing in Second Life

Linden Lifestyles, "Pimp Your Own Ride: SL Marketing 101": "98% of Second Life’s clothing, hair and shoe makers are absolutely crap at promoting themselves."

Nicola Escher, "SL Marketing 102": "The crux of my post is: don’t underestimate in-world marketing and promotion."

Plus, the new October issue of SL Business Magazine talks about radio advertising, in-world PR, and profiles Aimee Weber, and the three most prominent design/marketing companies that are bringing real-world brands into SL.

Anomaly Office in Second Life

Piers from PSFK wrote in to point out that Anomaly (an ad agency in NYC) has had an office in SL long before Leo and BBH. I went to check it out and here's a post card. Their offices are at Tinjin, on an island across from PSFK's office.

Corona Vending Machine for Sale in Second Life

Love this ad on SL Exchange:

"This Corona Vending machine will quickly pay for itself even in low traffic areas. It is the perfect visual addition to your club, casino, restaurant or even home! It is a fun vendor with a fun product. Easily earn $5L unlimited times over selling the copyable Corona drink inside the machine.

A great investment oportunity to make some good money with minimal investment!"

Initials, Brand Names, and Stock Prices

Two articles in one week on the same interesting subject: the influence of brand initials on brand image.

Al Ries at AdAge about J. Walter Thompson switching to JWT: "It is almost impossible to create a separate perception for a set of initials. Rather, initials tend to remind people of the names they originally stood for. When consumers see a KFC sign, they tend to think "Kentucky Fried Chicken" in the same way seeing "GE" conjures up "General Electric" or "IRS" the Internal Revenue Services. When a consumer sees a set of initials, his or her first reaction is: "What do those initials stand for?" And if they don't stand for anything, the consumer is unlikely to remember them.

Wall Street Journal (via The Frontal Cortex): "For at least two years, Harley-Davidson Inc.'s investor-relations folks had thought about it: Their ticker symbol, HDI, wasn't exactly evocative of the motorcycle maker's image. And there was something better available: HOG, biker-slang term for a Harley motorcycle. Something surprising has happened since Harley-Davidson adopted the symbol in mid-August: Its shares have gained nearly 16%, compared with about 4% for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index."

Target Brings Coupons to Life in Flip Books

A blogger at Seeds of Growth shares his experience with a flip book full of coupons by Target. Very cool.
-- via 47th precinct

Nicktoons Promotes New Shows with Flip Books
Interactive Print Through Structural Graphics
History of Pop-up and Movable Books
Flippies: Print in Motion

Advertising on Portable Bathrooms

Media Post: "New York-based Micro Target Media Monday launched a new division to develop an advertising network based on portable restrooms and other "non-traditional structures."

Million Dollar Building

This Million Dollar Building project has been around and promptly bookmarked for a while but my hard drive moves in mysterious ways so there. The Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam got inspired by the Million Dollar Page goldrush and is selling out a building facade one 35x29cm (about 10x10in) tile at a time, 20 euro apiece.

Million Dollar Peepshow

IBM's Exec on Business Potential of Virtual Worlds

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's vice president of technical strategy and innovation, writes on his blog about virtual world's potential for business and communications. Quotes:

"About two years ago, a study conducted by the IBM Academy of Technology concluded that technologies and capabilities from the gaming world would have a very strong impact on all aspects of IT, and made a number of recommendations for follow-on activities, which we have proceeded to implement."

"Another exciting area of study is e-commerce in the virtual world. The original, and now very successful concept of e-commerce, is built around the metaphor of a catalogue, which fits the page content notion of the Web and of browsers very nicely. But in the emerging, highly visual virtual worlds, commerce could be conducted in virtual stores, the allure of which would be limited only by the imagination of the virtual store designers."

"I believe that using such virtual, highly visual capabilities to help us design, simulate, optimize, operate and manage business activities of all sorts is going to be one of the most important breakthroughs in the IT industry over the next decade."

A few more details on the blog of Business Communicators of Second Life. Eightbar covers related IBM's projects.

-- clickable culture

Two Ad Agencies Announce Second Life Branches

Update (a few hours later): Posted some details on Brands in Games but there isn't much to report yet. Leo's office is just a tree and BBH's island is still locked.

More details to come about Leo Burnett's (see news in Brand Republic and AdAge) and Bartle Bogle Hegarty's (news on 3pointD) plans to open offices in Second Life, but I thought this article from Independent captures at least half of the collective mood:

The business loves a new consumer phenomenon that it can use to pep up its PowerPoint presentations and persuade clients that it has its collective finger on the pulse of the nation's obsessions. So all over town "YouTube", "MySpace" and "Second Life" are being artfully-casually dropped into conversations about brand communications strategy.


Following hot on the heels of Adidas, which recently became one of the first global brands to create a presence in the online virtual reality world, Leo Burnett has now set up shop in Second Life with a virtual agency - the Leo Ideas Hub. The idea is to create a global creative community where creative ideas can be shared and briefs honed. It's a neat alternative to the usual company intranet and gives Burnett the option to leverage any commercial opportunities that might come out of the Second Life economy.

But, much, much more than that, it's a good exercise in public relations. Several ad agencies in town have been scrambling to get their own virtual agency up and running, thereby polishing their cool, cutting-edge credentials. That the otherwise rather grey and unexciting Leo Burnett should beat them to it must be deeply frustrating. The rather cooler Bartle Bogle Hegarty was left trailing in the wake when it unveiled its own Second Life virtual agency a few days later."

Besides, YesButNoButYes went into SL and found an avatar named Leo Burnett who is a member of a BDSM community. As the blog says, "Note to agencies and brands - securing your own domain name was just the beginning. Maybe you also think about securing your avatar name."

Creative Promo Handbags Features on Snopes

The urban legend encyclopedia features our favorite shopping bags. It's a relief to know that the status of the entry is "true" and that the bags are not just a figment of our collective imagination.

Advertising with Receipts

[Click image to zoom in. Credit: 47th precinct]

Lovely receipt humor from Berlin's Blush store that also brought us these bags.

-- see a few more of those at 47th precinct

Advertising on Credit Card Receipts
ATM Advertising

NY Times: Selling to Avatars

"Selling to Avatars," Rob Walker, New York Times, October 1, 2006

A very top-line "for dummies" guide to the world of SL. The most interesting about it is that it appears in NY Times. Nice quote, too: "It’s a labor-intensive form of escapism, but these user creations are exactly what make the place interesting."
-- via PSFK

Harvard Business Review: Are You Ready for E-tailing 2.0?

"Are You Ready for E-tailing 2.0?", Paul Hemp, Harvard Business Review, October 2006

HBR's editor Paul Hemp does a follow-up piece to his "Avatar-Based Marketing". The argument is similar to the one I made in the thesis: in-game shopping experience combines the best of the two worlds - the wealth of information, the wide product range and the convenience of online commerce with the social aspects of brick-and-mortar stores that online retailers hasn't been able to replicate.

Selected quotes:

"As the experience becomes more realistic, there will be a return to the "social and recreational aspect of shopping," a crucial element of bricks-and-mortar retailing that was lost when retailers went online, says Bob Moore, a sociologist at the Palo Alto Research Center who studies virtual human interactions. One can envision a group of teenage girls arranging to meet at a virtual store to try on clothes, comment on each other’s choices, and ultimately choose something, real or virtual, to buy. (Though the sales receipts from virtual items are small, getting people to sport branded items in a virtual world has its own benefits.)"

"But virtual shopping expeditions may be driven more by the urge to chat than the urge to buy. Virtual shopping "would give friends something to do as they socialize online instead of simply sitting and IM-ing each other," says Michael K. Wilson, head of the company that runs There."

"Even eBay, with its jumble-sale character, might be transformed from a tool for finding a particular item to a world in which people could rummage together through piles of virtual stuff, the equivalent of an afternoon of real-world antiquing in the country with friends—an event that, even if no one is looking for anything in particular, inevitably results in someone’s purchasing something."

Leo Burnett, BBH Ready Second Life Offices

The big news of the week: two large ad agencies, Leo Burnett and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, have announced plans to open offices in Second Life (links to the announcements).

Leo works with Millions of Us on an Ideas Hub that will become a collaborative space for the agency's creative people (AdAge). The creatives will apparently have to learn the new interface and port their works as textures into the world. You can visit the commemorative tree marking the initiative at Millions of Us 190,82,23. Leo Burnett Toronto's blog has the full text of the press release and a few comments. Csven at reBang also offers his thoughts: "Someone needs to tell these old agencies that the first rule of Web 2.0 (and Second Life) is: Don't go around bragging about how you figured it out and are now (finally) going to set up an "ideas hub".

(Leo Burnett's SL tree of forbidden fruit. Note the CNet office on the background.)

Regarding BBH, Guardian reports: "Bartle Bogle Hegarty has opened a virtual advertising agency. BBH's move, within online virtual reality world Second Life, comes as rival Leo Burnett unveiled plans to set up Leo Ideas Hub. BBH has worked with London-based virtual world design agency Rivers Run Red to create a virtual agency populated by avatars of BBH staff including global chairman John Hegarty."

The island's future address is BBH 189, 74, 48. The location actually isn't working yet and is not displayed on the map (although it does come up in search) so you can't teleport there and see it for yourself. Here's how far I got:

I'll keep an eye on the things and will post more screenies as things progress.