SL major brands no.27: Visa Europe

SL major brands no.27: Visa Europe. From the sublime to the ridiculous. Following the excellent launch of the NBA into Second Life comes the somewhat bizarre entrance of Visa Europe.

The media coverage states that Visa Europe are seeking input from residents on what features should be on the Visa Island. Hmmmm. So how are they going to select these features? What if the most popular recommendation is a bowling alley? Or a cat flap? What if everyone wants to accumulate loyalty points from in-world activity that can be redeemed against their Visa bills?
Whats’s even worse is that the functionality which prompts residents to give their recommendations wasn’t even working when I tried it. Very disappointing.

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The island is currently a series of boxes stacked on top of each other with some token Visa branding thrown in for good measure.

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Visa Europe has made some fundamental mistakes. Firstly, there’s no strategy here. Asking residents to tell them what should be on the island is not a strategy. It’s a kop out and basically shows they haven’t understood the nuances of this marketing channel. I interpret this as a ‘we need to be in Second Life but we’re not sure why‘ approach.

Lifted from the multiple websites carrying this story:

Senior Vice President of Innovation and Acceptance for Visa Europe, Sandra Alzett,

Visa has approached Second Life in the interactive manner of the world itself.

What we have created is very much a work in progress which we are hoping to see grow organically through user participation, we are looking for visitors to our island and our member banks to input into our presence in their world.

She added, The island was chosen for its proximity to the mainland, whilst also allowing for space to develop and grow.

The Second Life world is one that is at the forefront of technology and as such is complementary to the extensive work that Visa undertakes in researching and developing new technologies.

AKA, plenty of sizzle and no steak.
Secondly, where’s the brand deployment/extension. Why haven’t they attempted to leverage their real-world positioning into a virtual platform. Their main website claims they’re ‘Helping small business grow with effective payment solutions‘. So what about helping small businesses develop potential new business in Second Life? Furthermore, their current positioning line is ‘Enjoy life’s opportunities‘. So what about changing this to ‘Enjoy Second Life’s opportunities’. Maybe they should have considered using their SL venue to provide assistance to new residents – explaining how the economy works, how to buy things and sell things.
Thirdly, there’s no integration at all with their real-world marketing. Visa has sponsorship links with the Rugby World Cup – a sport not really covered at all in SL. They’ve dropped the ball by not creating a tie-in here. They are also featuring an Olympics of Arts on their website. This would have been a nice feature to bring into SL.
ING for example, is currently developing a Formula One (racing) island, to maximise their sponsorships. The NBA island has many commercial tie-ins on their island. Also, there’s no mention at all of the SL initiative on their own website.

Are they keeping the seats warm by having Visa personnel on hand on the island now it’s live? No, it was empty when I was there.

What about events? Nope. None listed or promoted.

Well, at least there’s one upside. The Visa Europe Second Life island can only get better from here. Let’s really hope this is work in progress and that Visa Europe will at least bring something to the table here. You can’t just lay a venue down and ask residents to do all the hard work.

Marketeers wanting to develop a correct strategy for Second Life should click here.