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May 11, 2007

NEC explores brave new world

From its home venues in the West Midlands and an office in London, to a convention centre in Dublin, the NEC Group has extended its events empire even further by buying a plot of land on the ‘invergarry’ coast in the 3D virtual world of Second Life.

Entirely built and owned by its virtual residents, Second Life opened to public in 2003, and has since grown explosively. Today, it is inhabited by a total of 6,037,767 people from around the globe.

The NEC Group is the first of the exhibition and events venues in the UK to have a presence in this exciting new virtual world and is currently designing its look and feel. The NEC-branded building on Second Life is beach-front, and already has two floors complete with conference facilities, a stage, a sofa, up to date show listings, striking brand images and artwork on the walls. Outside is a jetty with a branded futuristic pod. Avatars (an individual’s persona in the virtual world) can fly in real time around the virtual world – a world which attracts six million global registered users.

Paul Thandi, the NEC Group's chief executive, said: “We are having an enormous amount of fun exploring ways to bring our brands to life virtually, and Second Life is an incredible platform for us to showcase our new brand. It’s helping us to interact and engage with our customers in a new and innovative way and we are enjoying discovering a whole new world of possibilities.

“For us, having a presence on Second Life is about learning, understanding and engaging with new audiences. It’s a highly visual experience, a real blank canvas for creativity. We want to be trailblazing and integrate real-world marketing activity into Second Life, so that, in the future, we can work towards selling tickets for the arenas, hosting online concerts and making our virtual venue as bustling and exciting as our real ones here in Birmingham.”

“Ultimately, Second Life will allow us to interact together with other businesses in a shared collaborative space regardless of geographical boundaries – and it’s great for us as a group, as it brings all our venues together as one.”

Major brands that feature on Second Life include Adidas, Calvin Klein, BMW, Microsoft, MTV, Coca Cola, IBM, L’Oreal, Reuters and Vodafone. The Second Life Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions on Second Life. This commerce is handled with the in-world unit-of-trade, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at online Linden Dollar exchanges.
Women account for 45% of second life users, the average age of all users is 32 and there are four days to the equivalent of one in Second Life.

Check out Second Life for yourself at www.secondlife.com

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