Phil Bilbrough: Puffle Worlds

Puffle Worlds

By Phil Bilbrough

Read on to find out how to monetorize your social network. If you are thinking, “Sell advertising”, “Sell customer data”, “Ask for donations”, “Charge for registration”, “Charge marketers to understand how they can use your social media network”…No no no…You are wrong.  The way to make money is to sell puffles.


My oldest daughter recently registered on Club Penguin. Penguin has been around for  years and is now owned by Disney. There is a free registration option and other registration or account options which are charged for that buy extra benefits which my daughter managed to convince my wife of their value.  There is other stuff that the account holders can purchase (to decorate your igloo) which can be paid for with the Club Penguin currency earned by playing Club Penguin games.

One Club Penguin fashion accessory for all 8 year olds and younger is a puffle. Puffles are a cross between a pet and a cushion – more cushion than pet. One needs to nurture them and take them for walks and it will follow your penguin around the site. This is a social network site (its also described as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game) so when my daughter is out and about in Club Penguin world she can see other penguins (other people logged on) and many of those have puffles following them around.

It’s fine, it’s cool virtual harmless fun. Until puffles crossed over and became available in a shop near you.

My daughter spoke at length to me about wanting a puffle. It was a conversation of a kind that I had expected to have with her when she is a teenager, one where I wouldn’t understand anything that she is saying to me. Anyway, my response to something that I don’t know anything about but requires money is “No”. Massive tears noise grief followed.

Some deal with her Mum was arranged and a day later she had a puffle. As mentioned before, it is a small pink piece of shit cushion with a face on it.

I write to hastily. Lets do the numbers. Club Penguin has over 700,000 paid members, and 12 million account holders. Those 12 million people ( I expect many more now) are a big audience and each puffle is costs $NZ11.99 (at Farmers) and kids don’t stop with one puffle they will have many. I like those marketing odds and so did Disney they paid  $US350 million for it in 2007 + another $US350 if performance targets were met.

So learnings? Never forget kids. Perhaps you should have kids just to experience this other culture right in your own home.

And I’ve a great idea for all of New Zealand. Gerry Brownlee are you reading? The Ministry of Economic Development should make a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based in an imaginary environmental utopia and account holders can be – I dunno – Kiwis. Perhaps it could be called This site’s real life cushion merchandise (with a personality) could be a..ah …a Fluffle. Instead of igloos the players have burrows… it would be easy. Develop it Gerry and just before the next election announce that the NZ Govt has just accepted $US700 million for it – and that will be spent on subsidizing premium beer. See.. I should be in politics.


Phil Bilbrough is a freelance online advertising specialist who is blogging on the subject for Scoop at He can be contacted at

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