‘Virtual persona’ website launches

Community site to link users with common interests, enabling brands to target specific markets.

The use of avatars – visual representations of Internet users – is to increase in the UK, following the launch this week of a new community website called Cycosmos.com.

Created by ID Media, a new media agency whose clients include MTV, Sony, Swatch and Volkswagen, Cycosmos.com has already proved a big hit in the US.

Users construct their virtual persona by choosing from over 30,000 possible character attributes, offering more than 30 million alternative identities. The result, says ID Media, is an “online society with limitless communication possibilities for users and business partners”.

Cycosmos.com is investing &£2m in an integrated marketing campaign, focusing initially on 18- to 35-year-old early adopters, opinion formers and heavy users of the Net. The above-the-line work has been developed by Kunde & Co, using the strapline “Make It Real”. Agency Cake will be running an “aggressive” PR campaign, as well as online viral marketing and “tactical guerrilla” activity.

Sotiris Damianos, marketing director of ID Media, says Cycosmos.com enables users to “seek out” and interact with others who share a common interest, while remaining completely anonymous.

“This online society will revolutionise the way people interact and users develop brand relationships online,” Damianos claims. He adds that user-specified character traits will enable brands to accurately target the individuals most receptive to their message, based on psychographic data.

Brands already involved with Cycosmos.com include IBM, easyEverything, WH Smith, ebookers.com and “a number of online service providers”.

Negotiations are also reported to be in place with several fashion, telecommunications and packaged goods brands.

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