Marketing website and mixology resource “thebar.com,” owned by wine and spirits firm Diageo, launched their Second Life incursion yesterday with a virtual “bar” made available to Second Life pub owners in world. The virtual bar offers 400 recipes to Second Life patrons who might be in the mood to do a little mixology of their own while hunkered down with their online buddies at an in-world watering hole.
In addition to the recipe feature, which provides a useful service for would-be drinkers, the bar offers a variety of branded virtual drinks replete with toasting animations to add authenticity to the virtual bar metaphor. One may question the need for “drinks” in an imaginary space, but many participants enjoy recreating social cues from the real world. No virtual item is so useless as a kitchen or dining table, yet people go to great lengths to mimic them in Second Life to enrich its atmosphere. Therein lies the value of an “authentic” drinking experience – it enables nonverbal cues which contribute to a classic social space metaphor.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Diageo’s Melissa Woodbury about their approach to marketing in the new world. I spoke of the culture that has grown up around both Second Life and what many of us see as the evolution of the World Wide Web, and how we struggle with marketing while seeking the growth and acceptance of the exposure that comes with commercial investment. Melissa shared that Diageo is interested in contributing to the community rather than overwhelming it with imposing brand builds. I may feel differently once the world is plastered in brands, but for now I applaud their discrete marketing approach. Perhaps we’ll see more concientious marketers taking cues from Diageo’s low-impact style. Welcome to Web 3.0, where branding can be so much more tasteful than the classic banner ad!
Millions of Us, the metaverse marketing firm, handled the in world development. You can see installations of “thebar.com” bar in such SL venues as “Witch’s Brew” and “The Blarney Stone Irish Bar.”