6 July 2008

holy brand opportunity, adman

I'm a bit of a comic-book geek, so when I see magazine with a superhero's face on it, I find it hard to pass by without picking it up. Maybe it's not such a rare thing in this game - after all, Mother has even launched its own series of graphic novels. This time the mag in question was the gaming title, Edge, which is promoting the news that DC Comics is putting its DC Universe online as a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMPORG). Now this excited me on a few levels. Firstly, that they are doing something interesting with their stories. Apparently DC are considering some sort of narrative feedback loop where the action developing online feeds storylines in print. Nice stuff. And what a great way to build in a reader/user's lifelong loyalty to the brand. There's also the storytelling from the user's point of view. Virtual worlds like Second Life and Habbo are well known enough, but what happens when your avatar has superpowers and a secret identity? How will users embrace and play with that? Other successful MMPORGs such as World of Warcraft already exist, but they didn't start with a package of characters (such as Batman) already attached to certain ideas and values. And following on from this, everyone knows that big brands have followed users online to Second Life - BBH and Leo Burnett have even set up virtual ad agencies there. But will any brands spot an opportunity for them in the DC Universe? Wouldn't it be a great place to communicate with boys and young men, whether you're targetting them as a hard-to-reach audience or as a key demographic? What kind of billboards and consumer experiences will exist? And anyway, which brands would flourish in a virtual world where most commercial organisations exist as a storytelling device, flogging hi-tech weapons? It may be a risk -but isn't it also a massive opportunity?

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