Ooh, aah, now it’s on yer computaah. In a genuinely
ground-breaking, three-dimensional style, the Daily Star has launched on
the Web with its megastar site.
Quite what the scale of investment is, the Star’s owner, United News and
Media, isn’t saying. It is, however, pushing megastar hard - both online
and in the paper.
The site boasts simple navigation, allowing surfers to access a wealth
of sport, news, games and entertainment features taken from the paper.
But the breathing heart of the megastar site is the 3-D world, which
offers new possibilities for advertisers and surfers alike.
What does it look like? Type www.megastar.co.uk and click on to the VR
Bar and you will be transported to a 3-D cobbled street the cast of
Coronation Street would feel at home in.
Houses, a pub and a club can be found along the street, along with the
first of megastar’s 3-D advertisers - Eidos, the computer games
Stroll down the street and you will come across a football. Kick it, but
be careful, as it doesn’t take much to send it over a garden wall.
Further on you will see a ladder, left there, no doubt, by a voyeur.
Go ahead, be that voyeur - just make sure you are prepared for ’a saucy
Continue down the street and you will find the boozah: the Star Pub.
Walk inside and notice the pictures on the wall which are live links to
picture news stories. Check out who is behind the bar - you may see a
3-D Spice Girl or a beaming Tony Blair.
The 3-D characters are all drawn from the day’s news. There is also a
’Starcade’ in one corner with a few special Star games. Bored? Try a
Starbird snap or see what’s on the jukebox.
The 3-D environment is designed to work in real time. Visit at night and
the street will appear dark and the megastar club will be open. It is,
of course, a topless club (this is, after all, the Daily Star’s online
persona) and onstage a 3D-Starbird model dances away. Inside private
rooms off the club more Starbirds are on show ... as it were.
Eidos has a room on the street called the manager’s office. Walk up the
stairs and you will find in yourself in a 3-D room. All objects in it
are interactive. For example, posters on the wall show the hit game,
Tomb Raider - a click will reveal game release dates. A PC on the desk
offers video demonstrations of new games.
Larry Sparks, the worldwide marketing director at Eidos Interactive UK,
explains: ’We were initially talking to the Daily Star about banner ads
and the idea developed from there. It is called the manager’s office as
we have a number of football games. It is great for us as it creates a
synergy between us and the environment. Anyone can advertise on banners
but a 3-D world is new.’
Dennis Greene, the editor of megastar, comments: ’Megastar is going to
have a wider appeal than to Star readers alone. It will draw in people
who like Loaded or FHM. But megastar is something much more. It is a
site that people will be able to keep returning to as it grows.’
Eidos is the first of what could be a community of advertisers on the
site, he hopes. Eventually, the ’street’ might boast a bookmakers, a
sports store, a supermarket and a bank, for example.
Geoffrey Wheating, group media development manager at the Star’s
publisher, Express Newspapers, says: ’It will evolve naturally. A bank
wants to get involved as do a number of Net brands. There are even
brands considering doing away with their own Websites to move in with
us, because they can see a site that has a great deal of appeal and rich
This article was first published on Campaign