One of the commercial breaks during the debut episode of Christian Slater’s new TV show, My Own Worst Enemy, started with a little recruiting pitch for the consulting agency that Slater’s character works for on the show, something along the lines of “we’re looking for a few good people.”
The spot listed a website for AJ Sun Consulting, the fictional character’s fictional employer. So of course I checked it out—I’m fascinated by this stuff.
The site was more substantial than I expected, sporting among its pages a mission statement, a privacy statement, and a client-access-only login field. And not a sign of it being a marketing platform for anything other than AJ Sun Consulting, until I had gotten as far as the fifth question on the job application form on the Careers page. But there it was:
Are you interested in learning more about our company’s employee program with Chevy?
Which Chevy vehicle would you prefer as your company car?
___ Chevy Traverse
___ Chevy Camaro
Looking into the backstory, I found a May 2008 press release from NBC quoting Dino Bernacchi, General Motors’ Director of Marketing Alliances and Branded Entertainment:
“We call it Fusion Marketing – partnering with the creative community around ideas that build relationships with a passionate audience, but done through the lens of the entertainment property.”
And indeed, a quick check of Whois.net shows the site registered to General Electric, NBC’s parent company. (GE, furthering its forays into “fusion marketing,” also appears as Liz Lemon’s employer on the NBC show 30 Rock.)
For a while, there was a lot of buzz around companies and public figures trying to create a presence in Second Life and use that world to spur more action for themselves in this one. (The Second Life Video Gallery at New Business Horizons has some interesting artifacts around some of these efforts.)
So exactly what is it that’s happening, metaphysically, when I’m in “first life” interacting in a fake forum created by a real entity like GM to sell a real product through a fake premise?
I feel a little bit like the girl in the old A-Ha video–inhabiting a place that’s between real and virtual.
Tags: 30 Rock, A-Ha, advertising, AJ Sun Consulting, branded entertainment, chevrolet, Chevy, Christian Slater, crossover advertising, Dino Bernacchi, First Life, fusion marketing, ge, General Electric, General Motors, internet marketing, marketing, My Own Worst Enemy, National Broadcasting Corporation, nbc, New Business Horizons, Second Life, television, tv, Whois.net