Aldon Hynes's blog

Colgate Smiles, they're contagious

Would you like a smile, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Online marketing is big business. Unfortunately, many companies approach it as a continuation of broadcast marketing. They replace billboards with banner ads and don’t take advantage of what an interactive environment can offer. As companies move into Second Life we see the same mistake being repeated as banner ads get replaced by ‘builds’ and again, marketers miss the power of interaction. One important exception is the Colgate Smile campaign in Second Life.

At the beginning of the Colgate Smile campaign, there were some criticisms of the build. The space that was built out was not as compelling as other builds. Yet these criticisms were mired in the broadcast marketing mentality. When you look more deeply, you find that the Colgate campaign as incredibly successful.

It started with a clear message tied nicely to the brand, a Colgate Smile. The message is clear, in Second Life and in real life. If you want a pretty smile, get Colgate. It is a great viral message. Smiles are contagious. Finally, it tied very nicely into Second Life. It filled a gap in Second Life in a very social manner. Avatars don’t smile. They should, but they don’t. There is a fix however, the Colgate Smile. As it stands right now, Colgate owns the smile market in Second Life.

This provides an interesting contrast to Toyota’s efforts in Second Life. I remember reading about Toyota in Second Life some time back. I went and sought out a Toyota dealership, and with my daughter, we bought a cute little car. We played with it for a while, and it is now buried in my inventory in Second Life. I rarely even think about it except when I see some other nicer car in Second Life. My experience of Toyota was of a ‘build’, a continuation of broadcast marketing. I looked at it briefly and moved on.

With the Colgate Smile, a person approached me in Second Life. They handed me a Colgate Smile package. I never accept anything in Second Life from a stranger without have a clear understanding of what I’m receiving, so I asked the ‘buzz agent’ what they had given me and why. We had a great discussion and I learned a lot about the advertising campaign from her.

I feel pretty comfortable in Second Life and am interested in the marketing aspects so my questions were different from what many people who received Colgate Smile packages were asking. Many of the people receiving Colgate Smiles were new to Second Life and needed help learning how to wear things and how to teleport. The Colgate Smile package included a list of places to teleport to that the creators of the campaign felt would make residents of Second Life smile.

Joni West, President of, which ran the campaign reports that the campaign more than doubled the previous one-on-one brand outreach in Second Life. The package was handed directly to over 30,000 unique Second Life residents. What is not clear is how many of these packages were passed on virally to other people. I know that I gave a copy of the Colgate Smile to several other residents.

I even added it to the avatar that Lillie Yifu created for Ned Lamont when he appeared on Virtually Speaking with Jimbo Hoyer. I haven’t spoken with Lillie about it, but I imagine it is something that master avatar designers will want to add to their creations.

The Colgate Smile campaign illustrates several key aspects of a successful interactive online campaign. It had a clear message. The message was viral. It gave people something that was useful to them and it was based on one on one interaction. Will other companies make the move beyond broadcast marketing to successful interactive online campaigns? For their sake, and for the sake of residents in Second Life, we can only hope.

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Organizing Edwards Volunteers in Connecticut

Last month, Kim spent a lot of time working on getting volunteers to head up to canvas in New Hampshire. After the New Hampshire primary was over, she started her new job working for Common Cause. At Common Cause, she needs to be non-partisan, so I’m picking up where she left off.

On February 5th, voters from Connecticut will go to the polls to vote for their candidates in the Democratic Presidential primary. If the race were simply decided by who can raise the most money or get the most media coverage, we have a two-person race. Those candidates have strong organizations here in Connecticut as well. However, if you want the candidate with the strongest message who is most capable of bringing about the change we need in Washington you need to look at the other candidate who has finished in the top three in both Iowa and New Hampshire, John Edwards.

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Moral Victories

Last night, I spent some time with Ned Lamont as he spoke to folks in Second Life. There were many supporters who showed up, people who had been moved by Ned’s campaign. As I reflected back on 2006, it struck me that perhaps we are undervaluing moral victories.

We all want to get agents of change elected. We may factor ‘electablity’ into our calculations. Clearly ‘electability’ is a factor, but people can make big changes without being elected.

Let’s take a couple of examples. Who do you think are the politicians that have had the biggest positive effect on our country?

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The continuing discussion about the banking crisis in Second Life

This afternoon there was a special session of Metanomics held to discuss the radical shift in policy that Linden Lab has taken to regulate Second Life Banks. Participating in the discussion were IntLibber Brautigan, head of Ancapistan Capital Exchange (ACE) and Brautigan & Tuck Holdings (BNT), Travis Ristow, head of BCX Bank, Benjamin Noble of Virtually Blind, Jillian Barth of Saxo Bank.

The main room filled up completely and there were seven alternative sites. The discussion was also broadcast on SLCN.TV. The amount of interest was so great that the bandwidth was overwhelmed and most people could not hear the feed. Numerous people called for the event to be rescheduled. It was noted that a full clear archive would be available after the broadcast. However, this did not address the issues of audience participation.

Numerous people are working on arranging sessions to discuss the broadcast once a clean version is available on the SLCN site. Details about the session will be posted as soon as the times and locations are determined.

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A Medium of Exchange

That is how Merriam-Websters defines “currency” and provides an interesting framework for understanding the issues of currency in Second Life. Beyond currency, we need to think about what it is based on and how it is transmitted, all of this will can help put the latest decision by Linden Lab about banking into perspective.

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