Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coke, Virtual Thirst, and Second Life

According to Coke, even avatars get thirsty!

Whether you believe that or not, Coke has just concluded its first contest in virtual world second life. Called “Virtual Thirst” it invited people to create virtual vending machines for Second Life. The machines were to vend experience—the essence of Coke—not cans of Coke product.

The contest had a couple of interesting aspects; participants could submit entries in a variety of different formats and Second Life avatars would be the judges.

According to the contest rules,

You may submit your idea in any of the following ways: - gift an object to us in Second Life - teleport your avatar to http://www.virtualthirst.com/launch (link no longer active; see graphic below) and use the drop-box to gift us your object
- share a video in YouTube - visit http://www.youtube.com/virtualthirst and use the "Connect with VirtualThirst" function to send us a message and attach your uploaded video
- share an image/description with us in MySpace - visit http://www.myspace.com/virtualthirst and use "Send Message" to post your idea as a message to us
- US residents only can also e-mail us your idea - send an email to Entries@virtualthirst.com with the subject line, "Virtual Thirst Entry" and attach your idea to the email. Please do not use the body of the email to describe or to link to a description of your idea.
[emphasis mine]

The contest took place across several media channels, opening it to more participants and giving Coke insight into channel usage. It probably also increased the difficulty of picking the winning entry. Judges were avatars, members of Joseph Jaffe’s Crayon marketing services company. A blog entry by Greg Verdino, a member of the firm, shows how comments were used to implement “listening” as part of the program. He also makes available a screen capture of the submission process on Second Life, complete with avatars.

The winning entry was a video and the announcement gives a good idea of how the contest played out. Coke doesn’t appear to be talking about their perspective on the contest—at least not yet.

There’s been a lot of criticism of Second Life in the marketing and tech trade press lately. Second Life itself offers metrics for its use, which of course makes their credibility suspect. Second Life may or not have the sustainable model; time will tell. There are many virtual worlds now; Tech Crunch (see complete table here) did an overview recently.
The time may come when most Internet users will have a presence in a virtual world for social or business purposes. It’s another thing marketers must learn about, must experiment with. It looks to me as if Coke’s first try turned out pretty well. I’m sure they learned lessons that will stand them in good stead as they consider other interactive ventures.
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Anonymous said...

Hi Mary Lou -

Thanks so much for your coverage of Virtual Thirst.

One point of clarification - the winning entry isn't the actually the video (that's just one of our promotional pieces) but the giant puzzle bottles that are not deployed in SL.

I can't speak for Coke per se, but they do in fact seem to be very pleased with how the program went and it was a tremendous learning experience for them, us and all involved.


Unknown said...

Hey Mary Lou,

Echoing Greg's thanks - and one clarifying comment to his own: the winning entry - giant puzzle bottles - IS deployed across SL now. We encourage residents to seek them out.

Coke's in a number of virtual worlds right now - it will be interesting to see how the learnings from SL influence strategies across other VE's.

David Vanderpoel
The North Highland Company