Written by ModernMediaMix
Thursday, April 18th, 2013
During the peak of Second Life – an online virtual world – avatars and businesses collided to create a commercialized reflection of the real world we live in today.
In Second Life, brands are able to utilize product placement and even open up their own stores inside the virtual world. Avatars can be seen sporting trendy American Apparel shirts and drinking Tecate beer next to parked taco trucks.
Second Life has become a new medium for advertisers to market to target audiences. In a virtual space where people, or their “avatars,” form communities based on common interests, the medium has become a new window for advertising opportunities.
Companies such as Adidas, Nike, H&M, and Coca-Cola, among others, are “real life” brands that have used SL as a tool to market to specific audiences. Second Life, created by Linden Labs, has their own currency that converts to US dollars. Several companies have been able to make a small profit off the conversion rate along with marketing their real life brand within the virtual world. From shoe and clothing stores, to food and beer, companies have tapped into the social platform as a means to bring awareness to their brand.
Currently, one can find themselves at an H&M store shopping for the brand’s apparel for their avatars or ordering Tecate beer from a dance club. Marketplace, an online store that houses all products inside Second Life, sells brands such as H&M, Nike and Adidas.
But some brands have flourished and faded. Take American Apparel, for an example. In June of 2006, the company wanted to reach a wide range of customers and eventually set up shop inside the virtual world. The media and Second Life users were excited for the collision of real and virtual life.
“We wanted to charge something for the clothes, so that they would have value,” said American Apparel’s Raz Schionning, the company’s director of Web services.. “We’re not trying to make a profit. But we know there is a lot to be learned in this arena.”
Not much money was made and eventually some Second Life users grew outraged by the excessive commercialism that seemed to have taken over the virtual world. The Second Life Liberation Army gunned down virtual shoppers in the Second Life store in protest. Shortly after, the store closed down.
“We’ve had thousands of visitors from all over the world and made a ton of new friends, seen some interesting things from furry folks to virtual terrorism, caused a bit of a clamor, and sold some virtual t-shirts and it’s been great. But we feel like our time is up here. So we’re closing our doors on Lerappa Island for now. This doesn’t mean we’re finished with the virtual world. Stay tuned to see what we do next.”
Talks of a reopening of the store cease to exist and the future of the virtual brand seems to have hit its end. Other real life brands are still in existence on the site, but mostly you can only find their products on marketplace and not in virtual stores.
So the real question is, has Second Life hit its peak? With a decrease in users and an increase is disinterested advertisers, what is the future of the virtual world?
- Sarah Shelton