December 5, 2007
by Ariel Adams
In what seems a strange marketing decision, Hublot Watches with its new French captain, has sailed in to the waters of Second Life and purchased a virtual island there. For those of you now keen on all that is virtual, Second Life is a well established virtual world. Not quite a game, not quite a second existence, Second Life (run by Linden Lab based out of San Francisco) got its claim to fame by making some of its inhabitants rich by selling virtual real estate. Millionaires from selling what some people claim is vapor. Other see virtual worlds as the next big thing in real estate.
A couple of years ago, Second Life was the haute place to go for the marketing elite to set up shop. They were not interested so much in buying and selling, but more branding and getting themselves out there in a new way. Companies like Coca-Cola and Toyota saw this as the next big tech land grab. Not since the days of sweeping up .com names, did companies flock to establish themselves on Second Life. Things fizzled out a bit as the Second Life population did not bubble as expected, but Second Life held strong, showing the world that there is a lot of innovation in virtual, user created content. As such, you have to applaud Second Life for being the locus of so much user created innovation.
Now that Hublot is on Second Life, things aren’t going to change much there, unless you really want to play around on a big H shaped island. Hublot promises to offer interesting insights on how Big Bang watches are made and designed. Best of all, you get the outfit your Second Life avatar with a Hublot Big Bang watch! Whether or not there is a fee involved is unclear. Basically, you have a virtual Hublot amusement park. Meeting Hublot representatives, and checking out Hubolt media.
From a marketing perspective this might seem an odd route for Hublot to go given the medium and audience. However, consider this, setting up shop on Second Life is relatively cheap. Several graphic designers and coders working a couple of weeks could do it, and then just one or two would be contracted to upkeep it. So costs are cheap. While you may have heard of Hublot watches and not Second Life, chances are that most people on Second Life have never heard of Hublot watches. The branding potential is there, in a big way.
Branding is really what it is all about, as many makers of fine watches envy the results of the Rolex monolith. Whether it surprises you or not, most people consider a Rolex watch to be the best you can get and the most expensive. How little they know. But this is because Rolex spends the most money on advertising by far, out of all other watch companies. Even if the people noticing Hublot watches on Second Life for the first time aren’t about to go out and buy one, the key is the brand inoculation; making users remember the name and forming associations. Informing potential future buyers is big money. Get them while they are a bit younger with free time, and when the time comes to get a nice watch, they will remember the “Rolex alternative.” My feeling is that this is Hublot’s main intention.
Hublot has been working hard to engage the younger, richer market. Young doctors and other professionals who are style conscious yet wants something functional. Hublot scored big with the Big Bang (no pun intended), and would be foolish not to capitalize on that. By sponsoring events, and engaging the future well funded thinkers of America, Hublot is doing an admirable attempt as being (at least one of) the nice watches of choice.
Second Life is rich with such marketing endeavors and Hublot’s entrance is an interesting and watch related one. Don’t expect a stampede of watch brands to embrace the virtual hug of Second Life, but certainly look out for more unique marketing efforts to tap previously uncharted waters for the typical watch maker.
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