,by Fran Jurga | 8 June 2009 | The Jurga Report
Are we ready for this?
The international pet and horse insurance company Petplan has employed a dedicated unit of illustrators, animators, videographers and writers and turned them loose to create an online horse stable that lives and breathes and does everything but smell horsey. What looks like a video game is actually an educational web site, so my ears are up for this effort, and I ventured in.
Warning: there is no such thing as a quick visit to this web site. And I'm not sure what's more interesting, the website itself or the plan and the people behind it. The fact that this stable is so much nicer than the ones that 99% of us will ever own is a little bothersome: couldn't there be one broken paver? Who among us owns such a perfect place?
The web site is created to make learning about proper horsecare and horse health interesting and fun, and they've lined up eventing superstar Lucinda Green as avatar. She pops up everywhere. As I noodled around, I realized that this site could be an entire winter's worth of unmounted meetings for Pony Clubs and 4-H groups.
The idea is that you enter a stableyard and choose between the stables (a big box stall), the office, the vet clinic, the tack room and the yard. A navigation bar moves you around the site, from the rafters down to the details in the stall mats, as videos open and close and articles teach you what you might like to know about different aspects of horsecare relevant to that part of the stable, or what the equipment is or does there. I almost made myself dizzy a couple of times, up there in the rafters.
The strangest part about yourstables.co.uk is that is almost devoid of overt "hard sell" advertising for Petplan or anyone else, for that matter. This is the age of "Nonselling", or supporting your brand by being yourself and stressing relationships and involvement in a common interest with your customer, if you read the marketing press. PetPlan obviously does, and they have built a palatial stableyard shrine to nonselling.
Six-time Badminton winner Lucinda Green was quoted in Horse and Hound last week as saying, "This new project is going to revolutionize the way owners and riders access information about all aspects of horse care and riding."
I could get lost in there and probably will, more than once.
Note: this is a 100% Flash content site and requires a high speed connection and a serious computer. A tamer html version is also available.
If you have some time to kill or it's a rainy day at horse camp, here's your destination: http://www.yourstables.co.uk/flash/