Gisteren had ik een meeting met BMW marketing innovation director, Achim Muellers. In Second Life ontmoette mijn avatar Badabing avatar Munich Express op het virtuele kantoor van BMW New World. Aanleiding van het gesprek was uiteraard de reeds aangekondigde vestiging van BMW in Second Life.
So here we are Munich, you feel excited about this place?
I definitely do - I think it is great, it was our top priority actually. We tried to use the design to transport our message, to speak about our clean energy concept. The BMW Hydrogen 7 and the BMW CleanEnergy concept demonstrate our commitment to hydrogen as the longterm foundation for individual mobility. Therefore this concept is ideal for Second Life: a future oriented concept on a future oriented platform.
Can you tell me something about yourself, what is your work for BMW, and why are you representing BMW in Second Life?
I sure can, real life my name is Achim Muellers, I was born in Amsterdam. I work in BMW Marketing at headquarters and am in charge of brand relations and co-operations. Besides that I’m in charge of the BMW Second Life project in our marketing innovations department. Our reason for entering Second Life is that Second Life is the perfect demonstration of consumer generated content.
Tell me more about the concept of CGC related to BMW, how can consumers add value to BMW in Second Life?
This is exactly what we are in the process of finding out here - through conversations with residents, communities etc. As I said earlier it is CGC at its best. Then it’s 3-D which I find to be fascinating - the net has been missing that I think - people don’t think and dream 2-D, they do so 3-D
It’s an extremely interesting community that we meet here: creative class and early adapters. Innovation is a very important part of the BMW brand identity. As a premium brand we have to be very careful with customization. People that buy into a premium brand associate values with it. Therefore we can not let everybody customize the way he wants. We can obviously not prevent it (if he does it privately) but we don’t necessarily endorse it. Nike is premium as well, but compared to us their ‘standard’ color line-up is limited. We have many exterior colors and upholstery - that gives room to a lot of individualisation already. And then we also have something called BMW Individual which also allows you to customize.
CGC at its best, can you give examples of recent Second Life development projects where in CGC tools are handout to make the input of consumers valuable?
We do not follow the individual activities that closely I’m afraid and also can’t comment on what other companies are doing, since I don’t know their strategy. But on many islands you find sandboxes that allow visitors to become engaged - that is a very clear indication, don’t you think? You have to accept the creative quality in terms of design/buildings.
What are the plans of BMW in the near future? I have looked around before, this place, I love the design, really one of the best I saw uptil now, but I noticed too that at this moment it is not more then a showroom …
Right - we felt that it is important to have a base in SL to learn and that is what this is. Next we want to develop based upon what we are learning from residents. Top-priority for me is interaction at this point in time. Future retail scenarios are also on the list.
We expect SL to keep on growing. What they’ve added in terms of 3D, interactivity etc. won’t go away. We need to find people in-world that really get into what they do - that they love it - not just people that are looking for some L$
What’s also interesting is that more and more companies and institutions do virtual tours - that’s a great way to communicate as well.
How many in-world employees do you have, besides yourself?
Well I have some colleagues that are on and off. I spent depends on the day - anywhere from 2 - 8 hours a day in-world. But here I would also like to explore the possibility to hire in-world. It could be designers, it could be builders, it could be event managers, hostesses, name it
How much did BMW invest uptil now?
Very manageable compared to what we’ve heard some others are spending. In the future it depends on the job that has to be done. What’s important is that we believe in the potential. I can comment on our island in that we are fine with the size we have right now - did you know that we actually flooded over 50% of our total area?