It was only a matter of time. Over two years after its virtual goods marketplace opened, Facebook has cast away its innocence and started to sell virtual gifts emblazoned with celebrity faces and paraphernalia. Leading the charge is worldwide music star Britney Spears, who now has six gifts prominently appearing in the marketplace.
Britney’s set of gifts was designed in collaboration with Susan Kare, the famed designer responsible for creating the icons on the original Macintosh, as well as many of Facebook’s other virtual gifts. The initial selection includes a schoolgirl outfit, a birthday cake, a multicolored balloon, and a classic shot of Britney’s performance with a boa constrictor. And in case you were worried that these digital masterpieces were somehow counterfeited, fear not: the press release we received says that they were all “signed by Spears herself”. Seriously.
Of course, these will sell like hotcakes to Britney’s legions of fans (she has over 2 million on Facebook alone). And they’ll also likely get a fair bit of use from mischievous young men who will send them to their friends and giggle incessantly. Either way, Britney and Facebook win: each gift costs $2 (most gifts cost half that), and you can be sure Britney is getting a piece of the action.
It’s only a matter of time before we see a bevy of other celebrities sporting their own sets of gifts. And in a way, it’s sort of sad — I’ve always enjoyed virtual gifts because they were charming, featuring things like cupcakes and penguins. Granted, there have certainly been some corporate sponsored gifts (someone gave me Coors Light bottlecap at some point), but even then they were usually hand drawn. The photographs of Britney just look out of place.