Canada Post gets a Second Life

You won't find Maple Grove on any map of Canada, but that didn't stop Canada Post from setting up shop there last month. Located in the virtual global community of over eight million users known as Second Life, the city saw an average of 800 unique visitors make 15,000 visits a day in the first week.

You won’t find Maple Grove on any map of Canada, but that didn’t stop Canada Post from setting up shop there last month. Located in the virtual global community of over eight million users known as Second Life, the city saw an average of 800 unique visitors make 15,000 visits a day in the first week.

‘We’ve already quadrupled our initial investment in terms of PR and ad value,’ says Paulina Sazon of Canada Post direct retail strategy, who oversaw the project.

Just as in a real post office, visitors to Maple Grove can buy stamps, cards and gifts and send them anywhere in Canada. Canadian and American retail partners featured in Canada Post’s annual lookbook catalogue are also supported, including Sears, SkyMall, Toys ‘R’ Us, the Shopping Channel, Brookstone, Red Canoe and Everything Olive. The virtual retailers are offering incentives such as discounts on merchandise and gifts with purchase. Sazon said that some products featured in the catalog and in Second Life sold out within the first week.

And there’s more to do than shop: virtual concerts, film screenings, discussion forums and even a virtual scavenger hunt are included. ‘This is a social network,’ says Sazon. ‘We’re looking for ways to ensure that we’ll have fun things for Second Lifers to do when they come to Maple Grove.’

A buzz marketing campaign is continuing through the Secondlife.com events calendar, group notices and blogs, as well as across social media networks such as MySpace. The design and build were the result of a collaboration between Canada Post, the mail carrier’s U.S. PR agency, Raleigh, N.C.-based French/West/Vaughan, and builders in the Second Life community.

The campaign objective is to support the lookbook and attract international retailer partners in an innovative way, says Sazon. Since the launch, the project has garnered interest from companies in Canada and the U.S., and Sazon says CP is ‘actively looking for ways to expand this.