There has been much maligning of marketers that experiment with Second Life. Several examples (American Apparel and Telus, among others) have been cited by marketers and the brands they curate for jumping into Second Life and creating expensive builds only to find that no one visits them.
But there are smart ways to take advantage of SL as a marketer. Coca Cola’s Virtual Thirst is one example. And Evian’s entrance into SL this week is another.
To support its "Bring Your Skin to Life" campaign, Evian has partnered with in-world skin designer, RealSKIN, to create 6 free skins for avatars (note … the article linked to is "Safe for Work" but other articles on the RealSKIN blog might not be – skins are anatomically correct). Your avatar can visit one of four Evian vending machines to receive a box of six skins (and shapes actually) as well as a virtual bottle of Evian.
I like this promotion for a number of reasons:
First and foremost, it is a partnership between an indigenous SL brand, RealSKIN and a real-life (RL) brand, Evian. This takes advantage of the clout that RealSKIN has built in-world (similar to Aveda’s partnering with SL hair designer ETD) and ensures that they will "go to market" in an SL-appropriate way.
Secondly, it provides something of value to an avatar without infringing upon the economics of SL. Brands have been criticized before for going into SL and giving away freebies and essentially taking away business from SL natives who are trying to earn a living. This partnership gave the work to an established business but also created an appropriate quality freebie. These are good skins, they are not GREAT skins. Typically, a skin costs between 500 and 1500 Lindens. I would put these at the low end of the scale, but they are entirely appropriate for a new avatar who doesn’t want to spend the Lindens or for a change for more established avatars.
The six skins include three male and three female with Caucasian, Black and Asian versions. I had never tried a Black or Asian skin before. This is a good way for me to "trial" a new product (see a pic of Katicus Sparrow, my avatar, below).
Finally, the free skins were promoted in-world, by the skin designer, through one of SL’s most popular fashion groups, FashCon, as well as on RealSKIN’s blog. There wasn’t a big press release or fanfare (as far as I could tell). Again, something very SL-appropriate; going through well established communication channels and letting the designer do the promotion.
So for all you SL-naysayers out there … take another look. Yes, SL is definitely not for everyone. But there are ways that brands can partner with in-world brands and co-create something positive for that market.
You can visit RealSKIN in-world (slurl) to see the Evian vending machine and get a set of skins.
Photos of the Evian vending machine and Katicus Sparrow were taken by me; Evian Girls and Evian Boys taken by Stephen Lightworker of RealSKIN.