One of the biggest talking points in youth marketing this year so far has been the rise of the virtual influencer. The trend brings up questions around the ethics of brand partnerships and the authenticity of relationships between influencers and their fans, but it also reveals an exciting insight into the future of marketing and the opportunities created by new technology.
The best known virtual influencer is Lil Miquela, who has 1.2 million Instagram followers and has worked with brands including Prada, Diesel and Supreme. She combines her brand endorsements with support for social causes such as Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood. In April she revealed that the masterminds behind the project (who she calls her “management”) are an agency called Brud, who are interested in how robotics and AI can be used in the media industry.
Described as the “first digital supermodel,” Shudu Gram was created by Cameron-James Wilson, who was inspired by a South African Princess Barbie doll. The London-based photographer and designer has avoided brand endorsement deals, but has collaborated with publishers such as Women’s Wear Daily on editorial content. The realistic character has fooled many of her followers into thinking she is human, but the biggest controversy has been around the depiction of black women.
While Miquela and Shudu can be mistaken for real people, Noonoouri looks more like a cute kids’ cartoon character, but her Instagram posts sound just like a fashion influencer. She lives in Paris, dresses in real items from current designer collections and hangs out with fashion luminaries like Carine Roitfeld and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her brand collaborations have ranged from Dior to KKW Beauty, and she’s been featured in magazines including Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire.
Influencer marketing is one of the topics we’ll be discussing at our youth marketing festival YMS18 NYC this October. Click here to find out more and get your tickets today.