These Bodies are Free, so Get One Now!: Advertising and Branding in Social Virtual Worlds

30 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2004

Date Written: April 2004


This paper gives an overview of various advertising and branding projects within a selection of online graphical chat and online gaming spaces known as virtual worlds. Virtual advertising and branding projects take several forms, from ad campaigns and contextual product placements within themed worlds, to entire worlds created solely to promote a brand or organization. Some residents of virtual worlds even create their own unique brands and ads to promote original virtual products produced and sold to other residents. Reactions to corporate sponsorships in online environments vary widely, depending on each world's culture. Teenagers are generally more receptive to in-world advertising than adults, often bringing elements of corporate branding into the worlds themselves. In fact, many of the fully branded worlds are targeted to teens and children. As of early 2004, companies experimenting with virtual worlds as sites for advertising include Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Intel, Aeropostale, Levi's, Nike, and DaimlerChrysler. The paper offers insights into a growing trend that is likely to evolve into new and unexpected forms in the future.

Keywords: Virtual worlds, advertising, branding, ads, brands, graphical chat, online gaming, product placemement

JEL Classification: M3

Suggested Citation

Book, Betsy, These Bodies are Free, so Get One Now!: Advertising and Branding in Social Virtual Worlds (April 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Betsy Book (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

New York, NY 10003
United States


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