Scion Launches In RL and SL

There’s been some talk about “reverse product placement” (a phrase with which I take issue – reLink), so I assume there’s a “forward” product placement. Question now is whether there’s a “neutral”, since Toyota’s Scion brand is reported by Reuters – via C|Net (Link) – to be launching a couple of new cars simultaneously at both the real life Chicago Auto Show and inside the Second Life virtual world. This raises some issues. For example, how many real cars will drive interest in the virtual cars? Where is the fiction of traditional product placement when the virtual world is not perceived as fiction by the users? A brand that exists only inside a movie is not fiction to the characters in that movie. And now we have technology that permits a perspective that is similar to those characters. Yet this shift in viewpoint goes unacknowledged.

Personally, I don’t really care about this news, I’m interested in the way that these things are being perceived and how they’re being labeled as a result. What I’m watching is whether some ad agency exec is going to give this dual-reality launch some kind of descriptor like “Transreality Product Placement” or better still “Transreality Product Launch”, which might make sense at some point in the future when and if they understood what that idea could truly encompass. Maybe when they finally grok what “reverse product placement” really is or at least what I believe it could be – virtual products using the real world as the “fiction” in which placement occurs – I’ll be less critical. Probably not any time soon.

By the way, what’s up with Reuters feeding this news to C|Net when it’s not on the Reuters/Second Life website (Link)? You’d think Reuters could at least simultaneously feed this story. {Whoops… found it – Link}