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The Virtual influencers I.



Part I


Virtual influencers are profiles generated by computers. They can look like humans or like a cartoon. These virtual influencers are CGI creations (computer-generated images) and represent the latest trend in influencer marketing.


Virtual influencer definition.


Christopher Travers states, "A virtual influencer is a digital character created in computer graphics software, then given a personality defined by a first-person view of the world and made accessible on media platforms for the sake of influence."


Characteristics of a virtual influencer


· Virtual influencers are digital creations. They are created and consumed exclusively in digital media.

· Virtual influencers are generated using the software.

· A virtual influencer is given a personality defined by the vision of a natural person.

· CGIs take advantage of multimedia platforms to make themselves known. The most popular platforms for the distribution of virtual influencers are Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Spotify, with Instagram being used by most of these.

· A virtual influencer may exist in physical media such as merchandising, magazines, comics, and more, but they initially push their stories on digital platforms.

Virtual influencer marketing


The public's receptivity towards virtual influencers has increased the demand for collaborations of these virtual characters by various brands, especially fashion brands.

CGIs represent new brand opportunities and offer interactive and innovative collaboration and creative storytelling. Plus, a plus point is that they do not have the restrictions of humans; they do not need photographers, makeup artists, or stylists for the sessions, can do a session and promote a brand non-stop, and as many times as possible, they do not need to stay in luxurious hotels or get sold out for an extended photo shoot.


The first influences.


Although virtual influencers may seem new, they have been around for years. The first manifestations that led to the virtual influencer industry, as we know it, date back to 1968-1973, with the music group based on characters such as The Archies and later The Gorillaz (1998-present), as the first examples of 2D characters that helped set a precedent for the well-known virtual music groups that are successful today.


Nevertheless, at a more recent date, we can point to Hatsune Miku, a musical artist with the appearance of a girl, created in 2007 in Japan, who has released several original albums and has appeared in advertisements for several brands.


Hatsune Miku
Hatsune Miku (Foto: Virtual Humans)

Fashion brands launch their virtual influencers.


Luxury fashion brands were the first to use virtual influencers. In 2018, Balmain used virtual models (Margot, Shudu, and Zhi). Fenty Beauty campaigned with Shudu Gram. Lil Miquela took over Prada's Instagram for Milan Fashion Week.


This trend subsequently led brands such as Prada to present their virtual model, a CGI called Candy, to promote their fragrance collection launched in December 2021. The luxury brand described the initiative as an opportunity to stimulate digital interaction with young consumers and reach new digital heights.





After that, influencer marketing became a trend. Other brands and businesses quickly followed Prada's lead. So, we have that; for example, KFC presented the CGI model of Colonel Sanders, a virtual influencer used for several campaigns, as a new image.

In South Asia, fashion brand Puma launched a campaign for its Puma Future Rider sneaker and created a virtual influencer for the campaign called Maya.

Nike, Samsung, and Calvin Klein partnered with Lil Miquela. Nissin, the instant ramen noodle brand, collaborated with Kizuna AI, a virtual YouTuber (Vtuber.)


Knox Frost
Knox Frost (Foto: Virtual Humans)

The World Health Organization also incorporated a virtual influencer in its communications to reach younger generations and give recommendations for social distancing amidst COVID-19. The collaboration was with Knox Frost, an influencer who talks about health, wellness, and especially issues related to mental health.





Kyra
Kyra (Foto: Virtual Humans)

In January 2022, India launched its first virtual influencer, Kyra, a 21-year-old woman from Delhi, with a renewed image. Top Social India created it with Himanshu Goel leading the project. Kyra has gained more than 100,000 followers since its January launch.


In 2016, Louis Vuitton made Lightning its virtual model for its spring-summer 2016 collection advertising campaign. The brand's artistic director, Nicolas Ghesquière, created designs for League of Legends champions Senna and Qiyana. To showcase the Louis Vuitton artistic director's previous collections, the brand collaborated with Riot Games' K/DA in 2020. Together with virtual influencer Seraphine, the group's digital members used fall 2014 and spring 2019 collections.


However, virtual influencers are not the only future of fashion. So are digital doubles. Burberry unveiled a double digital CGI by model Kendall Jenner for the summer 2020 collection. The fashion brand unveiled a second digital double for its TB Summer Monogram collection, the iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell.


In autumn 2018, French luxury fashion house Balmain launched a campaign starring three digital women. Two models, Margot (pictured left) and Zhi (pictured right), are exclusive to the Balmain brand, while the third, Shudu Gram, is a digital influencer popularly known as the world's first digital supermodel.

Margot (izquierda), Zhi (derecha), Shudu Gram (centro). (foto: Virtual Humans)


Noonoouri
Noonoouri (foto: Virtual Humans)





Another virtual influencer with projection in fashion is Noonoouri, created to be a fashion star. She has worked with Kim Kardashian, Tommy Hilfiger, Balenciaga, and even Vogue China in multiple cover sessions.












Lil Miquela.


The phenomenon of virtual influencers took on greater strength when, in 2016, Lil Miquela, a 19-year-old American influencer, was launched, who "appeared" on all screens and went viral on Instagram. It seemed genuine; he wore real clothes and posted pictures with real people; it was so well designed that it was easy to mistake her for a natural person. This CGI left her Instagram followers confused about whether she was human or not.






Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, is half Brazilian and half Spanish. Since 2016, It has been a virtual influencer. It has gained more than 1.5 million followers on social media created by Trevor McFedries and Sara Decou, the co-founders of Brud (https://www.brud.fyi), a creative agency specializing in robotics, artificial intelligence, and their applications to media companies based in Los Angeles, California. In 2018, Brud secured $6 million in venture capital funding in response to his success with Lil Miquela on Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud.


Lil Miquela has posed using brands from Chanel to Vetements and has collaborated with labels such as Off-White, Proenza Schouler, Moncler, and Prada, whose Instagram took over for the fall/winter of 2018.








CONTINUE…





















References.

The impact of content type posted by an influencer on consumer behavior: the moderating effect of influencer’s type. Sandra Voskaitė May 2020









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