The tables are decorated with flyers, candy and cakes. Someone is walking around with a megaphone, while another person dressed in an animal suit is yelling one-liners. Even a real dog is being used as a marketing tool.
Why, you ask? It seems rather desperate: trying to sell an After Sex detergent or Transfish, something that changes the colour of your fish. But this real-life fair is part of a Brand Management course in Second Life, for which the organisers received the annual UM Education Prize 2009.
This is the third time that the project has been organised; 160 marketing students, split into teams of 4 or 5, have to build and design a store in the virtual world of Second Life. They can choose whatever they’d like to sell, but it has to fit into one of the three categories: pet care, laundry care and baby care. The goal: to sell as many products as possible. But even more important is coming up with a successful marketing strategy.
On Tuesday and Wednesday all participants were able to spend some cash in the virtual world, buying any products they like – each student gets a certain amount of virtual money.
The real-life fair gives the students the opportunity to get some attention. “Last year they spread flyers and posters everywhere in the building, in the toilets, on the walls. Not everyone was happy with that”, says Gwen Noteborn, leader of the Second Life project and researcher at SBE’s educational department.
The young marketeers are going crazy. The student dressed in an animal suit is sweating all over, but one way or another he intends to promote “a food additive that extends the life span of your pet”. Competitors Jessica Blaesche and Balazs Dejczö hand out red flyers for an animal bed “that’s hygienic and washable”. Around the corner, the Nutural Wash team show off their soap nuts for washing. Laura Focke: “We chose to sell an organic product, something that already exists, no fantasy.” In her hand she’s holding a sachet with brown nuts. “We bought them on the internet. I tried them at home on an old t-shirt, and it really works.” Of a completely different category is the After Sex detergent spray. “Students like partying and after that they could end up in the bedroom. But what if you want to clean things up in a second the morning after? Use this. Just spray it on the sheets and the nasty smell and spots will disappear. We have a vanilla fragrance for women and a manly odour for men.” This student really studied for her promotional talk. Hopefully she’ll reap the rewards.