December 17, 2008

Garfield Partners with Studiocom; Finds New Life in Virtual World

Award-winning Digital Agency Expands Online Presence for Cartoon Classic

(Albany, IN)  ——Atlanta-based Studiocom, an award-winning full-service digital agency announces today a partnership between Paws, Inc. the creative house t hat manages the global business concerns for the widely syndicated GARFIELD comic strip and MiniEgo, a proprietary virtual community developed by Studiocom.

“We are unbelievably excited about the partnership with Garfield,” said Juan Pablo Gnecco, CEO, Studiocom. “Brand integration with an existing virtual world is a great value proposition for brands looking to capitalize on the popularity, engagement and brand immersion factors of online environments, without the full development costs. For us, this project is doubly rewarding as it allows us to integrate an iconic character into an environment that’s near to our hearts, and give something back to the users who, in a sense, started it all.”

The partnership will allow MiniEgo users to interact with Garfield characters and configure their avatars with Garfield inspired characteristics, such as a feline smile and branded t-shirts, amongst other items. Additionally, users will have the opportunity to hang out in virtual destination venues made famous by the venerable comic strip, such as Jon’s house, the fence in the alley where Garfield sings and dances and Irma’s diner. Garfield characters will make appearances throughout the experience, providing commentary on avatar configuration and interacting with users throughout the community.

Garfield’s integration into MiniEgo will be promoted on all Garfield online properties to drive traffic to the site. Fans can also look forward to animated downloads such as mini-cards that they can share with friends in which their avatars can be inserted into special Garfield mini-movies and scenes.

Earlier this year, Studiocom launched MiniEgo 1.0 (www.miniego.com), a slicker, full-blown virtual community which features enhanced security filters to prevent misuse and the sharing of sensitive information. Additionally, they replaced the site’s blogs with “Mini-books”— a twitter inspired lightweight journal with social networking features.

MiniEgo is the brainchild of Studiocom Associate Creative Director Mauricio “Maissito” Ruiz and Jose P. Zagal, who received his Ph.D at the Georgia Institute of Technology specializing in online communities and video games. The site was originally launched in beta in late 2006, as a testing ground for Studiocom’s proprietary MMOC engine “Galapagos,”and began gaining in popularity when the children of Studiocom employees began playing on the site and sharing their experiences with their peers.

Though Studiocom has never previously employed any media strategies to promote the online community, MiniEgo.com has quietly doubled in size every month and is wildly popular with tweens. The community features sophisticated, yet accessible tools for avatar configuration and blogging, as well as customizable downloads, e-cards and a real-time immersive multi-user chat.

Users can visit the MiniEgo site and design a highly personalized fully animated avatar (a MiniEgo) capable of expressing emotions, and chat with friends in urban-themed chat rooms.

“In 2000, Garfield announced that he officially loved the internet,” says creator, Jim Davis. “For the last year or so he’s been hearing a lot about online communities and with his thirtieth birthday now under his rather large belt, he's excited to embark on a new chapter of adventures in the virtual space. MiniEgo is the perfect property for us. It’s a great fit for our demographic and promotes interaction that’s consistent with what we want as a brand.”

A successful brand and enduring icon, GARFIELD is the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world with more than 200 million readers daily .

About Studiocom

Studiocom is a full-service digital agency, leading the evolution of interactive with in-house Mobile, Media Planning & Buying, Broadcast Design and Strategy practices. Founded in 1998, the agency’s work includes a wide variety including virtual communities and online brand loyalty programs to original character development and stop animation techniques. A WPP company since 2005, Studiocom has developed a proprietary online multi-player community platform and has been the consistent recipient of several marketing awards. Studiocom operates independently and is headquartered in Atlanta, with offices in Los Angeles, Boston and Bogotá, Colombia. Clients include The Coca-Cola Company, Mattel, Activision, ImpreMedia, Nestle, McCormick & Company, Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin-Robbins, Turner Broadcasting System and Twentieth Century Fox. For more information, please visit www.studiocom.com.