Avatar-Based Marketing

I know anybody who’s anybody has blogged about this already, but Paul Hemp’s Harvard Business Review article is actually sooooooo good it deserves another mention! This is a perfect example of good journalism we would like to see on virtual worlds, well researched and without ‘OMG, but it’s not real’ hype. I mean – it just includes everything!!
As the title implies, it’s about marketing in virtual worlds. From the McDonald’s stands in The Sims Online to the Coca Cola vending machines in Anarchy Online. And he even (and I applaud him specifically for this) mentions how Second Life clothes designers have been approached by real world clothing companies and links to Objects of Virtual Desire – yay! (Hey guys in case you’re egosurfing – what’s new? Update your site and let us know if you’ve sold something or made something new!!!)
So we know that there have been a few flukes when it comes to real world marketing in virtual worlds – like Subway in CounterStrike, and McDonald’s in The Sims Online – but is there still a chance?
Although Paul Hemp is a great journalist, I might be a really bad reader, because I’m not sure if the following statement is from him or Wagner James Au (they’re both brilliant either way):

“The potential of marketing directly to avatars doesn’t disappear after
they accompany their creators – tucked in their creators’ psyches – back to the
real world. A company might, for instance, create a real-world advertising
campaign aimed at a particular avatar “segment” – wizards, say, or
furries. Or you might offer in real-world stores a distinctive clothing
line available only to people whose avatars had, through achievements in an
online world, earned their creators the right to wear the gear, thus giving
people credibility in the real world based on their avatars’ virtual-world
status.”

Y
eah!!!!! I love this idea!!!! I mean, we’re pretty much evolving into a society that forms social groups on the basis of shared interest and tags (not that there’s anything new with that but – you know what I mean!) on the internett – why not bring that tag system to fashion? I think it would be brilliant if I had some sort of accessory that told the story of, ooops I mean represented, who I am in Anarchy Online! And I don’t mean the geeky t-shirt, I want something nice! And if I saw someone else wearing a piece I recognised to represent something I understood, I actually think I’d strike up a conversation with them!

Anyways! I just think it’s a great idea! Whether it’s Wu’s or Hemp’s! There’s a lot of potential in an idea like this – I’m not sure you could make millions yet….but I’m certain it has potential!

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