Playing dress-up: Brands set up shop on virtual doll network

Think paper dolls are a thing of the past? Stockholm-based Stardoll's almost seven million active members worldwide indicate otherwise.

Think paper dolls are a thing of the past? Stockholm-based Stardoll’s almost seven million active members worldwide indicate otherwise.

The site, which has 240,000 active Canadian users and a core demo of nine- to 17-year-old girls, lets participants build their own virtual paper dolls using celebrity likenesses. One of the most popular doll templates is based on Avril Lavigne, so the singer’s label, Toronto-based Nettwerk Records, decided to leverage that popularity. They built a sponsored page where users can not only dress up Avril, but also buy her songs, merch and track her tour dates.

‘Avril represents the beginning of what we think we can do,’ says Los Angeles-based Matt Palmer, Stardoll’s EVP/GM, who just moved to the company in April from the EVP, marketing post at Walt Disney Company. ‘We’re trying to combine the best aspects of fashion, music and social networking.’ Stardoll, which launched in April 2006, is independently owned (with backing by Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures) and so far, its growth has been viral.

Palmer sees fashion, retail and entertainment as the categories best poised to take advantage of Stardoll because they can integrate their products into the content. ‘We think kids will embrace brands and artists and celebrities,’ he says. ‘Our focus is really on branded opportunities.’

Ad prices will be flexible, and could entail simple flat rates or

revenue-sharing ops for sales of virtual clothes.

www.stardoll.com