afaqs!

Tata Indicom gets a Second Life

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | January 20, 2009
The brand claims to be the first telecom operator to engage its consumers through the virtual world

Tata & #BANNER1 & # Teleservices Ltd (TTSL), in partnership with Mumbai based Indusgeeks Solutions, India's first and largest virtual world development and services firm, has announced the extension of its Suno Dil Ki Awaaz brand campaign into the virtual world.

TTSL aims to take the campaign to the virtual world, Second Life, through a marketing initiative comprising an interactive virtual talent hunt competition.

With this move, TTSL lays claim to many firsts: the first telecom operator to have a presence in the virtual world with a mass media campaign; the first to offer a virtual talent hunt, which will invite participation from people all over the world; and the first to have its brand ambassadors, in their virtual avatars, engage with visitors from the Indian subcontinent in an interactive forum.

Other brands that have had a tryst with Second Life include Amul and CRY. Indusgeeks was responsible for the CRY campaign, too.

As part of the initiative, Tata Indicom will create and own an 'island' in the virtual world of Second Life. Users can visit this island, participate in the talent hunt, get a deeper understanding of the company's products and offerings and enjoy the softer properties on the island, including games, songs and other interactive programs.

Lloyd Mathias, chief marketing officer, TTSL, says, "With the exciting Second Life initiative, we continue with our tradition of launching many industry firsts. The digital world is evolving at a fantastic pace - cutting across geographical and cultural barriers - and we firmly believe that the virtual world has a huge outreach potential for businesses.

"As a company at the cutting edge of technology, TTSL always scouts for relevant and innovative technologies and opportunities. We feel our association with Second Life will redefine the concept of outreach and take digital interactivity to the next level, for it will allow Tata Indicom to engage with the growing digital audience in a manner that is relevant to them."

Second Life is an Internet enabled virtual world in which users can create their virtual identities to interact with the virtual identities of other users. Members of Second Life can participate in individual or group activities and create and trade items like virtual property and services. Members have to pay for the space they purchase on Second Life. Second Life is developed by the US based Linden Lab.

Now here are some interesting figures regarding the virtual world. According to Gartner Inc., by 2011, 80 per cent of active Internet users will interact with virtual worlds; by 2010, 20 per cent of global Tier I retailers will have a marketing presence in online games and virtual worlds. As far as Second Life is concerned, it has 15 million registered users and around 1.5 million active/unique users.

Brands such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, GE, Nokia, Toyota and Intel have already made their presence felt globally in Second Life.

Mathias lists the opportunities for Brand Tata Indicom in Second Life: "The youth, as a target group, are increasingly walking into Brand Indicom. Though our TG remains the masses in general, we can't ignore the younger lot. So, what better to engage them with the brand than a virtual world in which they can have their own avatars? This will help them take part actively in the brand development and experience process."

Mathias adds, "The Second Life experience caters to a semi-escapist feeling, too, which we all have longed for some time or the other. As far as the virtual talent hunt is concerned, it will take an 'event based' approach, rather than a 'static build' approach, which is the key to interacting with the community. Other features like the Suno Dil Ki Awaaz Phone Network will allow likeminded people to find each other. This is a unique service designed to enhance the Second Life experience."

Siddharth Banerjee, chief executive officer, Indusgeeks Solutions, says, "We are thrilled to partner with TTSL and create a benchmark initiative. TTSL has demonstrated true thought leadership in the domain of digital marketing by using this interactive, immersive, 3D medium to convey its brand story. Indusgeeks is glad to be partnering Tata Indicom in this first initiative of its kind in the Indian context."

To promote and spread awareness about Tata Indicom's foray into Second Life and engage consumers initially, the brand plans to use the digital medium to a large extent. This will include banner ads on various social networking sites such as Facebook and Orkut, gaming portals and other popular sites. Viral campaigns will be used, too.

The Tata Indicom website will carry a banner ad that helps the user register and log in for the Second Life experience. The brand also plans to tap traditional media by placing tags on its TV ads, as well as other print and outdoor collateral. Indusgeeks will be responsible for the creative execution of all these initiatives.

The campaign will ideally engage the 18-35 year old consumer in Tier I and Tier II cities. As far as the ad spend goes, TTSL officials maintain that the figure for online engagement is a single digit percentage.

It will be worth a wait to see whether Tata Indicom is able to pull off a success story with Second Life, a phenomenon that is yet to grip the Orkut-Facebook crazy Indian youth.