Does Philip Linden need a Colgate Smile?

I’ve written articles about the Colgate Smiles in Second Life. I’ve written about the Second Life Banking Ban in many places, and recently about Philip Linden being sad. People have asked if I really believe that avatars need to be able to smile, that the Second Life economy needs banks, or why I was so harsh on Philip Linden. To me, it is all part of the same question; what is Second Life really about anyway?

Too many people view Second Life as a game rife with sex and scams that nonetheless is getting some sort of interest from corporations and educational institutions. Others are very happy with the types of role playing that Linden Lab allows them to engage in, as well as the commerce to buy and sell clothes, skins, and other objects to enhance their role playing and don’t really want to see it change.

I believe both perspectives are too narrow and overlook the real potential of Second Life and other virtual worlds to become the key platform for the Internet in the twenty first century.

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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Smiles in Second Life

“You don’t realize that avatars don’t usually smile until someone offers you one.” That is what Joni Rich said to me as she explained the “Colgate Smile” campaign in Second Life. It presents a much different view of the campaign than was described in this Massively entry. Perhaps, that is because Joni and her company is approaching things from a different perspective reflecting changes going on in marketing as well as one of the key components of what makes Second Life more than just a more immersive website.

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The Orkut Virus and Scripts

Last night, I received five scrapbook entries on Orkut saying, “2008 vem ai... que ele comece mto bem para vc”. I’m not sure what that means, if anything, and it surely isn’t something my five friends would have sent me, especially not all at the same time. So I did a little digging.

It appears as if a script hit Orkut last night. The details are a bit sketchy, but apparently if you bring up the scrapbook page with one of these viral scraps in it, it would send that message to all of your friends and join you to a group, ‘Infectados pelo Vírus do Orkut’. Last night, that had 396,849 members. This morning, it is at 690,513 members. The problem is that you cannot unjoin this group.

Google appears to be deleting these scraps as fast as they could and the five scraps were deleted from my scrapbook as well as the one that the virus sent to my wife.

A way to protect against this is to turn off Javascript in its entirety, or to add a tool that partially turn off scripts. I chose the later option, using a Firefox addon called NoScript. It allows you to chose which domains can run scripts and which ones can’t.

The Law and Media Project

As is often the case, some of the most interesting discussions at conferences and symposia take place away from the main panels, and for me, the same happened at
the Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace. During lunch I found about the Knight Foundation grant to Yale Law School to ‘Train the
Next Generation's Leading Legal Journalists’
. While the grant was announced last May, this was the first I heard of it, and was pleased to get more details.

Some of the goals of the program are to study law and media, to promote interactions between lawyers and journalists, to provide opportunities for journalists to teach at Yale Law and to prepare law students for careers in media.

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