Pontiac is set to become the first major automaker to establish a presence in Second Life. Second Life, in case you aren't familiar, is that privately-owned, partly subscription-based 3-D virtual world, set up by Linden Lab, that allows residents to live a double digital life free from the constraints of the corporeal. There's no real aim or objective in the game except to go about living, which has led participants to do just that and set up a virtual economy with currency, trade and manufacturing going on in bits and bytes.

According to its press release, Pontiac will enter the Second Life world in late November when it opens a land mass called Motorati Island. But here's the fun part, Pontiac will offer free "land" for Residents who want to help "create a vibrant car culture within the community." Entrepreneurs and artists who wish to create their own projects devoted to car culture will be provided with parcels of land around Motorati Island by Pontiac. "Our mission is to work with the Second Life community to create a place for car lovers that doesn't exist today," said Mark-Hans Richer, marketing director at Pontiac. And, of course, you will be able to visit a Pontiac dealership on the island where you can customize a Solstice GXP and then even drive it on a high speed test track. The island will even have its own microsite at http://www.motoratilife.com/.

Full press release after the jump.

[Sources: Wikipedia, Pontiac, Linden Lab]

Press Release:

Pontiac Empowers Car Culture In Second Life
Pontiac's Motorati Island Debuts in Late November with Free "Land" for Auto Entrepreneurs

DETROIT, Oct. 20, 2006 - Pontiac is getting into real estate – but not in the way most would expect. It's joining a small group of trendsetting companies buying virtual real estate in Second Life, an online, 3-D world entirely built and owned by the residents that inhabit it. Pontiac's Second Life presence will launch with a six-region land mass called Motorati Island. But, Pontiac's arrival will come with a twist: an offer of free "land" for Second Lifers to create a vibrant car culture within the community.

Staying true to the spirit of Second Life, which empowers members to build the community, Pontiac is providing parcels of land around Motorati Island to Second Life entrepreneurs and artists who wish to create their own projects devoted to car culture. The process for land proposals begins when users are invited to the island's micro site, Motoratilife.com, to begin the submission process. Pontiac will review user's proposed projects and appropriate land accordingly on which users can go forth and develop their own ideas, as they relate to the Motorati community.

"Our mission is to work with the Second Life community to create a place for car lovers that doesn't exist today," said Mark-Hans Richer, marketing director at Pontiac. "However, our approach isn't to be a 'me too, marketer' and simply have a presence in the space. Rather, we want to empower the car community in Second Life and develop with them in a unique and meaningful manner. We aren't completely creating the experience – the Second Life users are. We're just providing the inspiration."

In addition to the community based projects, Pontiac will create its own presence on the island. Plans are in development to build a futuristic Pontiac "dealership," selling customizable versions of the newly introduced Pontiac Solstice GXP. Owners can then test their new purchases on a high-performance test track, fully modify them and even showcase them in a public gallery. The Pontiac Garage music stage in New York City's Times Square will be replicated in this space and act as a venue for live music performances by real artists in the form of their Second Life avatars.

"Our hope is to unleash the community's passion for cars," said Tor Myhren, executive vice president, executive creative director at Leo Burnett Detroit. "We envision weekly competitive driving events, drive-in theaters playing car related films, machinima film studios, car-themed fashion shows, live concerts, drive-in restaurants, you name it. If an idea relates to any aspect of car culture, we intend to give the community the means to make it happen."

In November, Second Life citizens selected for land development will begin building their projects. Pontiac's presence in Second Life will officially launch to the virtual public with a major multi-medium grand opening event. The event will leverage several of Pontiac's current media assets and partnerships, and details will be announced at a later date.

Pontiac's web presence off Second Life will coincide with the virtual world at Motoratilife.com. The microsite will provide an open window into Pontiac's Second Life efforts as they develop throughout the campaign. Beginning in November, the general public will also be able to join the unique virtual community via the Motoratilife website, which will link directly to the Motorati Island in Second Life.

Pontiac's advertising agency Leo Burnett Detroit is leading the project and collaborating with award-winning branded entertainment agency, Campfire (New York City and Orlando), to bring the campaign to Second Life and create a community in which users can engage and participate. Additional partners helping execute the campaign are Second Life developers Millions of Us ( Sausalito) and web developers Domani Studios ( New York City). The Second Life initiative follows on the heels of Pontiac's all digital G5 launch earlier this month, also coordinated by LBD, as another component in its non traditional marketing approach.

"Bringing together Pontiac, Campfire and Second Life is consistent with our agency's approach to focusing on strategy and the big idea, then bringing in the resources necessary to make it work," said Myhren.

The growing popularity of Second Life, created by Linden Lab, presents a unique marketing opportunity for companies like Pontiac. It's owned and developed by the more than one million users that inhabit it, and has a real economy, real social dynamics and the feeling of reality for its residents. Second Life is growing at a rate of 20 percent month over month. The residents of Second Life own virtual land and participate in an online economy. Users pay for items through the use of Linden dollars, the true currency of Second Life, which can be accrued in various ways, including the use of actual credit cards – which generate approximately $6 million a month at Second Life.