Friday, April 25, 2008

Brand embassadors in virtual worlds

Yesterday Finnish online entertainment company Sulake arranged an event focusing on "harnessing youth to act as brand ambassadors". The evening was kicked off by Mr. Jonathan Epstein from in-game advertising firm Double Fusion. Mr. Epstein highlighted five issues that are important when targeting to youth in this entertainment rich, networked society:
1. Include, don’t intrude
2. Keep it personal
3. We are what we shop
4. Fuel the aspiration
5. Focus on ROO (return on objective)

A couple of successful cases were also presented where Sulake products IRC-Galleria and Habbo Hotel were used to reach the right target groups. My absolute favorite was Stabilo case (Lindell). Heli Vainio, brand manager from Lindell gave really inspiring and heartened talk about their experiences at the IRC-Galleria. They looked for new ways to market Stabilo highlighting pens for youngsters. They had their message, the product, manga-drawing competition and some ideas about utilizing the web. They brainstormed with IRC-Galleria guys and came up with an idea of focusing on their Manga drawing competition (banner) and offering "ihq-sälä" (virtual swag) to youth.

They got huge number of drawings to the competition and 30 000 individuals joined the Stabilo community to get virtual Stabilo-branded swag. Lindell increased Stabilo sales to a big bookstore chain by 50%.

MarketingExperiments blog has related post about virtual swag.

Microsoft has also learned to be brave and utilize virtual worlds when launching their new applications. Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 will be launched at the Second Life on Saturday, April 26, 2008 at 9:00 A.M. PDT. Microsoft promises to show the applications in action but they also understand the possibility to bring together product experts and techsavvy peers and to enable open discussion.

Friday, April 18, 2008

...and we have the Pelixi winners!

Pelixi is a game concept and demo competition for Finnish children and youth under 21 year of age. The competition was arranged by The Centre of School Clubs.

The best game concept and game demo were awarded today at Heureka Science Center. Game concept Nivium won the grand prix of Pelixi concept category and Kiertoradalla (On the Orbit) game demo category. The idea of Nivium is to generate snowflakes from crystal pieces. The game is a rhythm game where the player has to tap the buttons at right time and at right order. There are various shapes, colors and sizes of crystals and different shapes create different sounds. The player will be awarded by the complexity, aesthetics and musical aspects of the snowflake. For Toshio Iwai fans Nivium most likely reminds a bit of Electroplankton game made for Nintendo DS and influenced by Toshio Iwai's earlier media art pieces such as "Composition on the Table" and "Sim Tunes".

On the Orbit is a game where the player has to do various tasks at the Space Ship. Some of the tasks will be carried out in a quiz format. The game could be interesting "learning environment" for space enthusiasts but also pleasant casual game.

Eight game concepts or demos were awarded at the competition. It was interesting to see how many game concepts obviously were influenced by Pokemon, The Sims or different racing games. It was also a bit pity that only four girls participating the competition but interesting to see that girls' games were quite stereotypical "pay it forward" friendship adventures where as boys' games were often versions of their favorite games or game types.

The results of the competition in Finnish.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Helsinki Media Conference 2008

I attended the Helsinki Media Conference event for the first time. The event is mainly for journalists and marketing people. This time there was a lot of talks about blurry concepts such as web2.0.

If you can Finnish, there are excellent Jaiku reports available from the event. For the rest of you here are some points I found interesting.

Andrew Keen talked about web2.0 but never really explained what he meant with it. He was upset that people upload videos to YouTube but do not get any money out of it. Perhaps people are after other ways to "benefit" from their videos?

It was also a bit worrying to hear that (as far as I understood his view) Mr. Keen saw bloggers as an alternative to mass communication. I would say they are primarily an addition to mass media and enrich the data by sharing their personal opinions about something.

Sami Salmenkivi talked about funny social networking / viral marketing case. It was exciting to realize that it would only take a small group of enthusiasts to get into the game and ready to go out and do whatever the Joker asks AND they would get hundreds of thousands of viewers to the "real life episodes". Impressive.

I also learned that you can reach half of 12-19 year old Finnish teenage girls via Demi magazine & website and 75% of 15-24 year old Finns use IRC-Galleria. For Demi magazine online community has become a vital source of information about trends, interests and phenomenon. I am more and more surprised that for example music magazine Suosikki or techie-mag Tekniikan maailma do not utilize communities and/or different groups of users any more efficiently.

Erik Norin gave a really nice presentation of FarFar ad agency. He gave examples of "ongoing marketing campaign model" and talked about Heidies but even more interesting example was a campaign their did for Nokia. They created quite funny Stavros character who is into "position art". Check out the website and you'll get the point. Ongoing model focuses on flexibility, adaptivity, discussion and creating a relationship with the customer. Mr. Norin showed how one could extend the lifespan of a campaign by enabling the consumers to take part of it for example by contributing questions, suggestions, answers... to the campaign.

In my presentation the main points were:
- the "information and communication layers" are flattening both contact and demand-wise. Facebook and Google HomePage both flatten the layers. Facebook does it by including various ways (both public and one to one) communication under one "community" and by flattening different acquaintances to one level. Google HomePage by giving the power to the user to mix and match various sources from information to one level and one layout -- anything from web diaries to personal blogs and official web news portals.
- There are three characteristics how youth use digital media: 1) communication acrobatics, 2) multitasking and 3) snack culture.
- My presentation:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

All Finnish girl gamers unite!

The third "girl gamers" night was organized yesterday. The first two sessions were actually Rock band sessions at the REAL bands' rehearsal studio at Iso Roba in Helsinki. I loved the idea of having those plastic instruments in the studio and see what the "real" guitar heroes say about it (!) I actually asked about that but apparently the guys were not too interested in finding out what the girls were doing there and who the F*** is playing Ride the Lightning at full volume (with plastic instruments ;)

Anyhow yesterday there were 10+ of us present at Microsoft office in Espoo. Games like Halo, Scene It?, Rock Band, a dance game, Viva Pinâta etc. were played amongst enjoying good food, drinks and company.

It was nice to see such a range of girls and women present from 15-year old game geeks to women working at game stores, to marketing specialists, journalists and researcher/designer. Besides game playing we also talked (enthusiastically!) about women's role in game communities and prejudices towards girl gamers -- but also about the pleasure women get when they can show their superior gaming skills over boys and men :D Especially when those girlgamers who were present yesterday were not "the typical casual, social gamers" or The Sims fans but Rainbow Six, flight simulator or Halo players, guitar hero gurus and shooter specialists.

We had a lot of fun! The next session will be Wii-evening organized by Nintendo. If there are Finnish girl gamers who would like to chat with like-minded, you are most welcome to join us. Send me a message or join FB group "Pelinaiset".