Freeloader in Second Life

Colangelo's Virtual Holiday Party

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The Event: Colangelo's Holiday Party
The Date:Dec. 28-29, 2006
The Venue: Plush City, Second Life
The Drinks: Brightly colored pixilated mixtures specially formulated for Colangelo
The Swag: The whole Cinderella deal, short of the prince: entry to the Second Life ball, outfit, shoes, drinks, cash-ola.
Who attended? We have no idea.
Who attended? We have no idea.

Connecticut ad agency Colangelo is filled with 24-hour party people -- or so they would have you think when they announced their 24-hour party on Second Life to introduce their clients and prospective clients to the quirks and possibilities of marketing in the virtual world. Freeloader had to be there, of course, because any party that would allow us to simultaneously dance on tabletops and sit at home in our pajamas was an event not to be missed.

Colangelo kicked off its party with the fairy godmother of all goodie bags. Not only did they provide free access to Second Life, but they provided all attendees with special dressing room privileges. Freeloader, deciding this was our chance to be the hussy Simon Doonan once pegged us as, went with a brazen strapless red dress and matching red heels. A cropped do a la Demi Moore in "Indecent Proposal" and we were in business to party like the most raucous of rock stars, albeit behind the anonymous cloak of our avatar.

While it was fabu for us to frolic and fly unknown to anyone, it meant the other attendees were unknowns as well. Who of Colangelo's employees, current clients and prospective clients were present? We have no idea -- who the heck is going to spoil the unreality of it all by asking a tricked-out dragon what he does for a living?

Susan Cocco, Colangelo's executive marketing director, assured us that the 500 invites they sent out brought in brand directors and business development officers -- among others -- from companies such as Unilever, Schick, Diageo, Newman's Own and Kraft. The wide window of opportunity to attend, though, shut down for about five hours due to some real-life earthquake in China (or so we were told), which meant attendees were teleporting in from spots in Europe and several of these United States.

If these pretty important executives did indeed attend, they go the chance to play with flying bunnies, ride water slides and hang out on pirate ships.

Despite a half-hour retreat to Orientation Island where we learned to touch, sit, walk, run and fly, socializing in Second Life was a practice in ineptitude. Conversations happen in a rolling IM screen for anyone to hear, which means we stepped into several conversations we weren't invited to -- oops. A hostess, one of many experienced Second Lifers asked to guide the newbies, gave us money to try the slot machines, but we just kept running into the machines and never managed to slip the money into them. We did eventually figure out that hitting one button on our keyboard threw our avatar into convulsions that let us shake the ample booty we'd given ourselves. OK, so we seemed to be the only ones at the "Frog and Cat" concert in the final two hours of the party doing the kick, jerk, hitchhiker dance Seinfeld's Elaine was famous for. Sadly, we never did figure out how to pull that move on a tabletop.

Fortunately for our humility, another attendee confessed she was checking out drinks to see which would look best with her dress. After examining three possibilities, her avatar promptly fell right on her butt. Yes, you can get drunk in virtual reality, and you don't have to live through the hangover.
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