by: Alain Thys

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In America, brands experiment in Second Life and There, hang out on Laguna Beach or even set up their own not-so-little universe. Korea has Cyworld  and China is building one of the most ambitious virtual worlds on the planet (or should I call it an e-commerce enabled mass-customisation system with virtual world storefront ?) 

And meanwhile, Europe sleeps.

Sure, we've got Habbo, Entropia and a few others which are doing impressively well. And we all have high hopes for Twinity. But beyond them I'm not feeling any real "buzz" around virtual worlds and what they could mean for brands, businesses and the people who pay their salary (i.e. the customer).

This while more than half of the Second Life residents hold European passports and World of Warcraft left the European one million mark behind them almost 2 years ago

I think this should change. That is why - at Futurelab - we want to see whether there are European brands, businesses, universities or even governments out there who would like to have a serious look at launching a branded virtual world for European audiences in 2008. 

The deal would be simple. We organise a round table where we all get together for a serious chat (over 2 or 3 days). From our side, we'll bring along our best research and thinkers, a bag of cutting edge ideas and the project management expertise of Stefan Weiss from our virtual world outpost in Germany (which just cloned the city of Munich). You bring along the money and commercial fire-power to support the things that you like.

If we jointly come to a concept you believe in, we hit the gaspedal and those who were there from the start get a priority seat at the table for years to come. If we don't, you walk away and we all learned a lot.

So, drop myself or Stefan Kolle a line if you'd like to hear more about our plans to put Europe on the virtual map of the world. We think it can be done. Do you ?

Post Scriptum
To truly focus the minds on having a productive meeting, the cover charge for participating in the round table is € 5,000 for the first participant of a brand, and € 2,500 for any additional person after that. 

Participation is limited to maximum 3 principals per brand in which we recommend to include your marketing and your HR leader. Agency representatives are also welcome to accompany the brand they represent (at the rates mentioned above).

Photo: Sebcaen Ulysses (http://flickr.com/photos/sebcaen/1328298722/) CC 2.0

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