Ben & Jerry’s SL Island – Dookie Chunk Ice Cream Swirl

by Pixeleen Mistral on 10/09/07 at 5:08 am

Players flee fecal collection game in ice cream factory advertisland
Corporations step in mixed marketing messages

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

I have seen strange and wonderful things in Second Life, and Ben & Jerry’s virtual ice cream factory/cow poop collection facility/new resident “orientation” area left me in awe. Not a good kind of awe — more of a “we can’t make this up, folks” sort of awe. Where were the PR people when someone suggested a cow shit pick-up game in an ice cream factory – has anyone heard of product placement? Where is the Second Life virtual health inspector?

try not to track anything into the factory

These strangely mixed marketing messages comes from the juxtaposition of a green “game” – collecting cow pies for an eco-friendly methane digester with an ice cream factory. I’m all for green marketing and sustainability – but didn’t anyone think suspicious brown blotches on the pink bordered path to the factory might evoke questions about sanitation? I don’t want to think about what some of the virtual world’s less desirable elements are going to put in the ice cream.

But the virtual gross-out factor is not the only marketing muddle in Ben & Jerry’s virtual advertisland. The implications of Second Life’s continuing Disneyfication and and how Linden Lab treats its customers are chilling – evidently the Lab has abandoned anyone who chooses the ice cream “community” to what amounts to a 2 island cage – with no apparent exit.

you’ll want to wash your hands afterwards

Cross-contaminated marketing treats customers like krill

Linden Lab reportedly has very low retention rates for new residents – only 10% of new players stick with Second Life for any length of time – although the vast majority of the players are not paying a subscription fee. Linden Lab fanboys have suggested that the problem with player retention may start with the Linden Lab new player orientation. This seems somewhat implausible – doesn’t having 1 out of 4 sessions ending in a crash discourage residents more?

The Lab recently began picking corporate partners for new player orientation, and dressing up this customer sell-off as giving new residents a choice of “communities”. In the virtual world of “community choice”, new residents can opt for the official Linden Lab orientation area, or one several corporate-sponsored orientation sites – including Ben & Jerry’s garishly-colored islands. Apparently community is now defined by real life brand preferences – at least according to the Lindens. Someone should send a memo to the elf, gorean, and furry communities of Second Life – perhaps they can get corporate sponsorship as well if they can identify a real life product affinity.

we’ll tell you how to wear our uniforms – but not how to leave

Unfortunately, the corporate orientation crowd may not be exactly motivated to cover some of the finer points of Second Life – like how to escape the immersive advertisement island and explore the metaverse at large. Both Ben and Jerry forgot all about explaining how the map works, or how to teleport anywhere. Their orientation does explain how to wear their corporate logo-wear. But is it surprising there is no mention of how to ever leave the isolated islands? The longer players are trapped the more time they have to absorb the message. The only orientation to transportation is sign that says it is a teleport – but the faux-teleport simply deposits players at the bovine fecal collection facility/food factory.

During repeated visits to Ben & Jerry’s orientation island I met many bewildered new players, wondering how to get off the island. Here is a typical encounter:

jacaaron Jetcity: hi
Pixeleen Mistral: hi! enjoying Second Life?
jacaaron Jetcity: yea

Pixeleen Mistral: good. i’d think that this area might get boring for you, but as long as you are happy, that’s the important thing
jacaaron Jetcity: really

Pixeleen Mistral: you are stuck here though – unless you can get someone to tell you how to leave or learn how to leave yourself. but there are cow pies to touch if you like that sort of thing. see the sign in back of me? they have a game where you collect cow shit
jacaaron Jetcity: haha ha. where?

Pixeleen Mistral: right here
Pixeleen Mistral: read the sign and you can collect cow poop. wash your hands afterwards though, and don’t get any in the ice cream. doesn’t this make you want to eat ice cream?

Beka Paulse wonders what he just stepped in

Honeptis Villota: Hey!
jacaaron Jetcity: hi honeptis

Honeptis Villota: hello. please help me
Pixeleen Mistral: I’ll try
jacaaron Jetcity: i’m trying to figure out how to play the game

Pixeleen Mistral: what is the problem?
Honeptis Villota: i want to leave this horrible place
jacaaron Jetcity: yea me too

Pixeleen Mistral: I can help with that

get us out of this horrible place

What were they thinking?

After teaching the confused players how to teleport to Help Island, I returned to study Ben and Jerry’s color scheme – a color palette 9-year olds and Torley Linden will find attractive. Fighting the suspicion that I had walked through something questionable, I scuffed my sandals on the impossibly green lawn and wondered if this new media experiment is really helping or Second Life or Ben & Jerry’s brands.

Presumably Linden Lab is paid a placement fee to steer new customers to the corporate dis-orientation, but what will restrain a corporation’s natural desire to keep players in their advertisland forever? What will those trapped players tell their friends about the wonders of Second Life? Perhaps this does not matter if Second Life players really are just marketing krill – but Ben & Jerry’s PR people must have been suffering from brain freeze when they signed off on this one. I’ll never look at their ice cream the same way again.

24 Responses to “Ben & Jerry’s SL Island – Dookie Chunk Ice Cream Swirl”

  1. mootykips

    Sep 10th, 2007

    In before fecal ageplayers.

    Someone’s gotta love this shit.


  2. Ann Otoole

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Indeed Linden Research needs to grow a spine and deal harshly with unethical business practices.
    The entire concept of communities driven by corporate entities is stupid.
    What is a community? Why didn’t Linden Research ask “The Community of Residents” what they thought about the idea and offer actual communities in SL an opportunity to construct real community entry points? Why hasn’t Linden Research provided a simple “SL Community” entry portal where people genuinely interested in seeing better retention rates could participate in easing the transition into SL for newcomers?

    When all you think about is money all you are is … well… greenish in color.

  3. Kyle

    Sep 10th, 2007

    The one time I was on the Ben and Jerry’s island I had a very confused newbie follow me around asking me what she was supposed to do next. She didn’t get it at all. I don’t blame her. I would be confused and pissed if my introduction to sl was being funneled into a virtual ad. This won’t help player retention at all.

    However, apparently the L word orientation and islands themselves are really popular. But possibly because there is already a very strong community behind the show.

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Oops, Pixeleen swipes another one of my stories ROFL.

    Glad I can keep on inspiring this person who has no ideas of her own for stories!

    Oh, and re: “The Lab recently began picking corporate partners for new player orientation, and dressing up this customer sell-off as giving new residents a choice of “communities”” — this wasn’t “recently” but already covered here back in June:

    – coverage which provoked ridicule from other Herald reporters and the commenteers blah blah, even though it was identified as a huge problem for the over-commercialization of SL, and the pitching of a windfall of newbie traffic to select corporations — the Herald is still neglecting to mention here that a whopping forty percent of the traffic is turned over to these dozen corporate friends.

    I’m marvelling how Pixeleen deleted my comment on the other story about her swiping an idea out of the “Junior Author” queue — my God, that’s awful. Uri, why are you tolerating this censorship? You know I’m just going to be exposing this and you’re all going to look retarded.

  5. Corona

    Sep 10th, 2007

    makes you wonder what is in Ben and Jerry’s product if this is what their PR or Ad dept produce.

    will have to make an occasional habit to go there and hand out LM’s to more uesful newbie places

  6. Primhair Blingtardo

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Oh brother, just what the grid needs. People like Pixeleen running around acting superior, insulting newbies’ intelligence in orientation islands and handing out LMs to their own personal Bling Store or prebuilt rental houses.

    I’m going to go see if there really isn’t a way to get off of these islands. I have a feeling our gracious “mentor” Pixeleen is either not bright enough to find it, or she gave up looking before learning how to use the walk/fly controls.

    I highly doubt any orientation island wants to trap newcomers with no way to TP out into the actual grid. Were this true, I doubt the Herald would be able to avoid using the word GULAG in the title of the article. This rag reeks with the “how-come-they-get-all-the-newbies-and-I-can’t” sour grapes mentality of greed and misplaced self-importance.

  7. The Todd

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Dookie and ice cream… Even I couldn’t have made that up…

  8. Jessica Holyoke

    Sep 10th, 2007


    I think you’re confusing your writers whose names begin with “P” in your gulag reference.

    But honestly, why would a corporation bring in an audience that is somewhat brand loyal to spread out to the rest of the grid? In other words, I’m paying for a targeted ad to people who are at least somewhat interested in my product, why do I show them the door?

  9. SqueezeOne Pow

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Too bad not just anyone can get on the list of “communities”. This is something that could be solved with a “do you want Victorian or Cyberpunk or Combat or Barbie?” choice followed by TPing into a building high above Caledon or Chaos or wherever. Once they follow the basic steps laid out on the wall then they can tp to the surface and go from there.

    People should go check out the Japanese and Brazilian orientation areas to see prime examples of a successful orientation island. They lay it out for you, have places to hang out at, shop and leave if you want. Maybe the issue is that these are non-English “minority” groups…as in not the majority of SL users…so they had fewer options for sponsorship and wanted to make something that was basic and homogenized for their respective cultures. They also seem to have stronger “communities” as a result of being smaller groups.

    The real problem with retention I think is that everyone expects to set up a shop to sell robots and cars in their first week. SL isn’t an iPod or Xbox. You have to be technically knowledgeable to some extent to get it working for you and a bit moreso to utilize some of the more complicated aspects of it.

    I think many people don’t understand the nature of SL so they see the lag and other issues and don’t even bother. “Why doesn’t this work like WoW or TSO?” Hell, most SL old-timers don’t get it and say shit like that!

  10. Nacon

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Honestly… it’s the BEST style-theme sim in SL to date. However… it’s too bright and gay if you were planning to stay in that sim too long.

    (Wtf were you waiting for? More ice-creams?)

  11. Jim Schack

    Sep 10th, 2007


    I think Pixeleen might be innocent this time. I don’t know anyone who’s sat though an entire episode of your podcast without carefully placing a bullet in their own head. Perhaps Witness X has, but they don’t count because he/she fails at life.

  12. Carl Metropolitan

    Sep 10th, 2007

    I kind of enjoyed the picking up cow shit game.

  13. Why Bother

    Sep 11th, 2007

    Jim Schack: “Perhaps Witness X has, but they don’t count because he/she fails at life.”

    Here we have the foremost expert on failing at life so he should know failure when he sees it.

    Jim boy your always good for a good laugh.

  14. lulz

    Sep 11th, 2007

    WHOOPS! This story was so important she had to SWIPE it from Prokofy!!!

    Prokofy, you are weak, and petty. Obviously this story had so much merit that Pixeleen, who is also very petty, had to swipe it from you, because, you know, the entire universe orbits your fat lazy ass.

  15. urizenussklar

    Sep 11th, 2007

    Prok, Pix had this story at least as early as Aug. 4, which is when she told me about it. Note that this is a month before you broadcast it to no one. Behold, a chat log!

    ——— Forwarded message ———-
    From: Pixeleen Mistral Date: Aug 4, 2007 6:43 PM
    Subject: Chat with Pixeleen Mistral

    6:36 PM Pixeleen: as in a totally mis-guided PR/marketing thing
    me: do tell
    Pixeleen: if you sign up for SL you can optionally join a community
    one fo the “communitees” is Ben and Jerry’s ice cream orreintation
    6:37 PM build by the sheep
    but the orientation island doesn’t tell you how to get OFF the island
    me: haha
    Pixeleen: there is a game
    picking up cow shit for a methane maker
    to power the ice cream plant
    me: that’s hot
    Pixeleen: you have to touch the meadow muffins to pick them up
    6:38 PM me: yum
    Pixeleen: I think its not good marketing to put shit next to food
    me: ususally not
    Pixeleen: or by the factory
    me: no
    Pixeleen: so I’m walking around wondering if the brown things on the pink path is cow poop or what?
    6:39 PM and the whole build is like 12 year old girl cutesey
    but the bizzare thing is its like a roach motel marketing concept

  16. Inigo Chamerberlin

    Sep 11th, 2007

    Well, I’m not a keeper of chat logs or detailed diaries myself, neither am I into points scoring – but I am fed up with Prok’s behaviour.

    Pixeleen called me over to Tom & Jerry’s or whatever it’s called about a month back to see what I thought. Specifically if I could find the instructions on how to get out of ‘cutsey hell’ for helpless newbs (there aren’t any that either of us could find).

    If you visit the place you’ll find yourself helping out trapped newbs too. Horrible place – what an intro to SL! I imagine after a few weeks there people’s minds turn to suicide because – THERE IS NO ESCAPE.
    Unless someone from outside drops by and explains how to get the hell out and into the rest of SL. So, any time you have a bit of spare time, just drop by and do a good deed.

    Or, if you know an influential Linden, maybe have a word? If ever I saw a good reason for withdrawing access to the signup API from an organisation, that place is it!

  17. Nacon

    Sep 11th, 2007

    *takes his time to Prok’s comment this time*

    Oh lovely… she’s grieffing SL Herald now.
    Now I call that a success!

    Now… about Ben&Jerry’s ice cream…. was there something in your bowl made you want to vomit?

    It’s just an ice-cream advertising, not some bloody lindens brain-raping la la sperms land.

    (Like I said few months ago… get a job)

  18. Alice345 Oh

    Sep 11th, 2007

    I think that the Ben & Jerrys island is a beautiful build which really helps SL. Have you seen any other builds in SL like it? The methane cow poop game is a fun “GAME”…Its SL, not RL. People come to SL to have fun, and Ben & Jerrys hit that nail on the head. Its a fun sim. Most n00bs are smart enough to see the map button on the bottom of their screen if they want to leave. I have been to that island many times to hang out with friends and to play the game that gives prizes daily and donated to charity. I think Pix is jealous of this build and is trying to lure N00bs to her weak island.

  19. Ichi Jaehun

    Sep 11th, 2007

    I have to agree with Nacon, please do realize that it will take a number of years before we reach any state comparable to a Star Trek utopia. Enjoy Coca-Cola.

  20. economic mip

    Sep 13th, 2007

    Um, there is no way off the island complex. Nor is there a way off the STA Travel complex, or the NBA sims, or the new Reuters car themed orientation, or the newest themed Electric Sheep created build which I can’t name due to a NDA. It seems to be quite a pattern with their orientations.

  21. indigo

    Sep 23rd, 2007



    ONLY THE THE P******** N*****

  22. blanon

    Sep 24th, 2007

    What happened to the first 58?
    Oh nvm… They failed no doubt lol

  23. yfrrysdygh

    Oct 15th, 2008

    i think that pixeleen minstrual is just a coward who seeks out political correction everywhere. ben&jerry was the best place in whole secondlife.

  24. 04 Jishnu

    Oct 15th, 2008

    What the shit you are writing here?
    and what about designs you don’t like?
    grass is too green? or 3D shit scares you to death?
    you fuckind dumb? graphics add some quality low-res surrealistic touch
    to boring glance SL crap which pretends to be realistic.
    when you try to write a critic ‘article’
    maybe you first study the subject.
    what a dreary 40 years old virgin you are.

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