Vodafone wins race to be first ‘virtual’ mobile brand

Vodafone is to become the first mobile phone operator on virtual reality world Second Life.

The company will use Second Life as another channel for its “Make the most of now” advertising campaign and also make its content available. It is planning to launch in the virtual world before Christmas.

Vodafone director of brand strategy and manifestation David Erixon says: “Second Life is an exciting place to be at the moment and allows us to engage with our consumers.”

Brands and agencies have been clamouring to tap into the fast-growing social-networking phenomenon. At the end of last month, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide launched a creative department in Second Life. The division, called Leo Ideas Hub, brings together more than 1,600 creatives from the global network.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) has also opened a virtual advertising agency in Second Life. BBH worked with virtual world design agency Rivers Run Red to create a virtual agency populated by avatars – virtual alter egos – of staff, including global chairman John Hegarty.

Second Life, which has about 870,000 subscribers, differs from other online social networks because it is a 3-D virtual-reality world that mixes gaming with commerce. Subscribers create their own avatars to live an alternative life.

Erixon says of the social networking phenomenon: “It was never going to be a matter of ‘if’ we got involved, but ‘when’.”

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