Why is Coke There for Virtual Worlds?

Jack Myers covered The Coca-Cola virtual world investment at There.com in The Myers Report last week. If you were at my “Myth Buster” panel at iMedia earlier in the week, you’d conclude that every major brand marketer, their agencies and media company partners are fleeing Virtual Worlds in droves. I’ll post a follow-up stat from a live poll taken at the conference, but my recall is over 2/3 pronounced Second Live as a proxy for Virtual Worlds “done.”

This wasn’t the opinion of those on the panel–my comment was that from the ashes of late ’90s dot-bombs we’re building huge value (gator=Behavioral Targeting boom; “push”=RSS, XML, Widgets, etc.; and so on) and before we eat our young we should study what’s served us. Also on the panel, Adam Broitman of Morpheus Media said:

“You don’t have to be a fan of Second Life, but you do have to understand and admire the platform because it’s where consumers are going in the future. I look at how my nieces and nephews are using sites like Disney’s Club Penguin, which is very similar to Second Life, and you know that this is where marketing is going. Those kids are going to get credit cards someday, and I’m not sure that today’s marketers, many of whom haven’t even been on Second Life, are going to be ready.”

In his article Myers points out that Coke is building off of a strong understanding of socialnets, gaming, and is extending strategy. As opposed to many that rush into a digital channel or space without a strategy. Or “management-by-press-release” as we like to call it. You know the scenario, a C-level exec fires of an email wanting to know “why aren’t we doing something in XYZ like our competition that just launched there?”

Coke is “There.com” because their consumer, brand and marketplace is “there” respectively: teens are open to and will soon expect socialnetworking and 3-d functionality as a minimum standard for engagement; The Coke side of life demands creative extension; stabalizing platform including the internet stack, but also what the network and device layers will allow. As we’ve seen, the source code and intellectual property being developed within Coke and it’s agencies will be come a real competitive advantage. It will allow them to act quicker to capitalize on new opportunities and vet those worth pursuing.

Ultimately, Coke is in There.com for strategic reasons and the ROI of involvement will rationalize further investment in this specific area or inform evolving to another platform or approach. It’s not fad-based or reactive. It is steeped in a longer perspective than the next new thing, and as such, can get the halo-effect of innovating with confidence while not putting all efforts blindly in one area.

Care to add your perspective? Comment below.

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