Leo Burnett is one of the biggest names in advertising, famous for devising such icons as Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant and (ahem) Marlboro Man. Although the man himself died in 1971, the company that bears his name has continued to thrive, spreading from its headquarters in Chicago to become a worldwide company.
I've known there was a Leo Burnett island in Second Life for almost as long as I've been a resident. It nestles within the embrace of the Millions of Us archipelago, but has always been off-limits to outsiders. Or at least that is what I had assumed. After many failed attempts to gain access, I gave up trying months ago. But it seems that something has changed in the intervening period, and the island is now open to visitors - and I can wholeheartedly recommend the trip.
First inklings of a Second Life presence came in September 2006, with the announcement that the company was setting up an "info hub" for its 2400 "creative staff." Whether it has been successful in this, I have no idea. My guess is that it may well have fallen short of early expectations, since a Second Life presence needs a regular injection of activity to keep it lively - and I have seen and read nothing to indicate that this has happened.
The build itself is strange and wonderful. At its heart is a truly stupendous tree, in and around which the human elements of the build are arrayed. I can't even guess at the purpose of some of the features, while others are more straightforward, with cosy meeting areas dotted around the site and a large auditorium located in the centre of the tree itself. There is an extensive (if slightly confusing) teleport system to take you between locations. There is something oddly - and pleasingly - "cartoony" about some parts of the site, and there is a strong sense of play at work. Having spoken with friends about it, it is clear that there are many hidden gems to discover. Anyway, here is a large set of pictures for you to peruse, and hopefully get some sense of the place:
The Tree House
Inside the Tree House
Peering into round things
Unless the message is so subtle I missed it, I don't see this place as promoting Leo Burnett. I found no in-yer-face advertising material, or links to their website. In fact, it does look like it was designed for internal company use only. Which begs the question: "why is it open now?"
I would like to think that the company wants to share its clever and witty site with the rest of Second Life. However, I also aware that the site is coming up to its first anniversary, and there is a nagging thought in my mind that perhaps this opening to the public is actually its swansong. Will it still be here in 2 or 3 months time? I hope so.
UPDATE: I take it all back. Looks like I've not been trying hard enough as this place has been open for ages (thanks Grace). Which makes it even more interesting to determine why it is so under-promoted, and this from an advertising agency! Ideas on a digital postcard, please.