One of the questions about real-world brands coming into Second Life has been whether they would arrive with products that fit the world, or whether they’d simply show up with some money, hang out a shingle and leave it at that, hoping to garner whatever marketing pop might accrue. Most projects thus far have proved a pleasant surprise, and the latest is no exception. The Adidas outlet built by Rivers Run Red in the virtual world of Second Life has opened with an introductory product, the a3 Microride. Like the real-life shoe, the Second Life counterpart provides “the ultimate blend of bounce and flexibility with minimum weight.” In fact, it’s a great virtual-world product, acting like a kind of pogo stick for your feet, and with the option to keep bouncing you around as long as you’re walking over open ground.
The shoes are a good, fun translation of a real-world product into the virtual realm, and at L$50 (about US$0.20), they’re affordable by pretty much everyone. Pick yours up at adidas (104, 182, 53). [<--SL link] (Also read Rik Riel’s take on the store.)
One thing that’s interesting here is that the initiative pre-supposes SL will be a good viral marketing tool, which has yet to be really demonstrated. But it’s encouraging, in a broader metaversal view, to see that the Adidas project is looking for more than the print headlines that come from merely setting up shop in a virtual world. The idea here seems to be to get a3 Microrides out all over the Grid. While this may be distasteful to some, especially those who want to preserve SL culture as hermetically sealed off from the physical world, what I find encouraging about it is that Adidas is taking SL members seriously as a demographic. Their view seems to be that it’s to their advantage to have lots of avatars running around in their bouncy shoes. This gives a bit more weight to the avatar — and by extension to the person behind it — than most previous marketing initiatives have done.
So do we look for a spike in sales of the real a3 Microrides? It will be interesting to see whether the virtual shoes are a one-off for Adidas or part of a continuing effort. In any case, you kind of have to like the respect Adidas is showing the virtual world with the a3’s. Bounce on.