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AKQA to recruit staff and ideas from Second Life office

SAN FRANCISCO - Digital marketing agency AKQA is this month opening an office in the virtual world of Second Life in an attempt to hire new talent and attract ideas from the world's online inhabitants.

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The company is the latest marketing consultancy to see potential in opening a virtual office and follows on the heels of agencies including Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide, which started up offices earlier this year.

AKQA will use its base in Second Life as a hub to recruit new staff to the company. It will also host "AKQA Insight" seminars, allowing anyone in the world with a computer and broadband connection who is signed up to Second Life to contribute branding ideas.

Tom Bedecarre, AKQA's chief executive, said that the virtual hub will give the agency the opportunity to connect with digital talent from all over the world.

"Additionally, our 'AKQA Insight' seminars will serve as an open forum to share thoughts on brand building in our second lives," he said.

AKQA added that it also intends to collaborate with artists, musicians, and content creators on creative projects with AKQA and its clients.

Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA's co-founder and chairman, said: "The Second Life community is full of early adopters, trend setters who are the first to embrace new ideas and that's the kind of people that we want to hire.

"We will use our space to invite the Second Life community to join us when we host events like gaming nights, video nights and afternoon tea. We want to give it more of a relaxed clubhouse feel where everyone is welcome to hang out."

AKQA has real offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Singapore and Shanghai. Its clients include Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nike, Diageo and Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Channel 4 Radio announced it is to feature in the virtual world, claiming it is the first broadcaster to do so. Last month, news agency Reuters placed its own reporter in the game. Called Adam Reuters in Second Life, he is London-based Adam Pasick in the real world.

The game, which was developed by San Francisco-based company Linden Lab, launched in 2003. It allows individuals to create avatars and pursue alternate virtual lives, with their own cars and homes.

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