Though virtual worlds have been touted as one of the most innovative online marketing platforms, short of in-world events, most companies haven't figured out how to use them as an effective sales channel.
According to tech research group Gartner, one of the five major laws companies should follow for success is to "be relevant and add value" to the world itself. The sponsorship by Kajeet of personalized "chat bubbles" in the Whyville tween universe is an example of just that.
At the Kajeet Chat Factory in Whyville, tweens use "clams" they have earned by playing educational games in-world, to purchase and design unique chat bubbles. By allowing them to choose different colors, borders, and dialogue styles, the company encourages personalization of one of Whyville's most popular features--chatting.
"Kajeet and Whyville are empowering kids to communicate with each other in new and exciting ways online, just as our cell phone service allows them to do so offline," said Daniel Neal, CEO and founder of Kajeet.
With Whyville's reported 2 million citizens spanning the ages of 8 and 15, this partnership firmly establishes the Kajeet brand with the target demographic for its kid and parent-friendly cell phone service. Instead of simply setting up a virtual shop, the company engages tweens, allowing them to become familiar with its features prior to paying for them.
Both companies also strive to foster a safe integration of technology into kids' lives. Before chatting on Whyville, for example, citizens must take a test to demonstrate their knowledge of safe and appropriate chat behavior. Meanwhile, Kajeet offers a "configurator" feature as part of its cell phone service, a tool parents can use to set the times that kids can make and receive calls.
"Partnering with Whyville makes sense to us for a lot of reasons, as we're both companies that respect kids, believe strongly in educating them about technology and look to them to help create the products they're using," said Neal.