Circuit City 2.0 in Second Life

ccsl-map2.jpg

Looks like Circuit City is finally developing the four island Second Life estate that was purchased back in May ’07. As some of you may know, I was in charge of the Second Life project before my job was cut, so I’m really interested to see if what they build follows the strategy that I proposed.

IBM developed a Circuit City store on IBM10 last December which generated a good deal of press, but like most corporate sims, its usually empty now. The store was never really intended to be a permanent home for Circuit in Second Life. It was primarily for demonstration purposes to allow IBM to showcase what could be done for retailers in SL. The content of the store has not changed at all in the last six months and there has been no effort to develop community engagement at the store, primarily due to contractual hurdles with IBM (its their island).

As a starting point for planning a larger SL presence for Circuit City, I did extensive research on early real world brand entries, speaking with counterparts in other companies as well as marketers, branding experts and others. It didn’t take long for me to come to the same conclusion of many prominent Virtual World observers:

Most real world brands just didn’t understand how to approach the medium.

It would not be appropriate to reveal details of the strategy I proposed as Circuit has not done so and it may not be what they are going with in the end. I will say that the strategy leveraged lessons learned from other real brand builds and was specifically designed to promote engagement on several levels. I have not been in contact with anyone from Circuit since I left, but from the 30,000 ft. view on the map display, they seem to be close to an announcement.

2 comments so far

  1. Gavin Heaton on

    I think most companies are experimenting at the moment. Even those that are making some investment are viewing it as R+D, not something that will have any impact on their brands or their sales … at best it will provide some brief buzz.
    But I have a feeling that … if as you say, learnings are recycled into strategy, then the potential for competitive advantage in the next 5+ years could be possible. The challenge is the ROI horizon seeming so far away.

  2. Doug Meacham on

    Gavin, Thanks for the comment. I agree that most are experimenting now. Many of the early adopters were disappointed because they entered the space with the wrong expectations. Those that came in expecting SecondLife to drive product sales only saw that “brief buzz”. Others, like Pontiac and “The L Word” have had much more sustained success because they built their SecondLife presence around community. That was the approach I recommend for Circuit, but I have my doubts if they are heading in that direction. When the CEO first saw the demo store, he zeroed in on the 3D nature and the ability to look at product in 3D. He did not understand the much more powerful social nature. The bigger project was funded with just one objective – generate $X of sales in the first year.


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