Cycosmos.com, the online community portal, has launched its latest integrated promotion for its virtual worlds community website.
The site, which allows users to create and modify an Avatar (an online representation complete with personality traits and a physical appearance), has devised a controversial competition for its users to win cosmetic surgery.
Users can nominate themselves or a friend to win pounds 5,000 worth of surgery.
They submit a picture and information on the site and wait for other users to vote for who they think should get the surgery. The person with the highest number of votes will win.
Rebecca Renfro, a spokesperson at Cycosmos, said: 'We have done research that shows people tend to choose a similar look to their real personality. We came up with the idea of offering people a chance to change their real-life appearance.'
The site is aimed at 18- to 35-year-olds and has 150,000 unique users.
Renfro added: 'We wanted to see what debate this sparked off - a sort of 'Am I hot or not?' debate. The site gives the users the opportunity to change themselves physically in the virtual world. We wanted to extend this opportunity to the real world.'
Two UK cosmetic surgery associations - the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons - have endorsed the competition, which takes place between 4 and 19 December.
The pounds 20,000 campaign includes online viral marketing, e-clips and e-cards, and will be bolstered by some radio and press.