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COMPUTER-GENERATED AVATARS - Are these marketing influencers here to stay?

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Meet Daisy, a computer-generated avatar made to look and work like real influencers, without the cost and with full control.

Computer-generated avatars like this one have grown massively over the past few years, with brands such as Prada, Puma, and Yoox (luxury discount site owned by Net-a-Porter) going from spending an estimated $8 billion on influencer marking in 2019, to an expected $15 million by 2022.

Currently there are over 150 independent virtual influencers, originating from Dudley Nevill-Spencer's Virtual Influencer Agency launched in 2017. Whilst luxury brands originally shunned his agency, they are now developing their own avatars to compete with these independent ones, for example Daisy, who was launched in 2018 by Yoox.

Why the change of heart? Well, virtual influencers have been proven to be quite successful according to the brands that are using them. Daisy has worked in many multi-brand campaigns, wearing Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, costing far less than real influencers, being 100% controllable, and having the ability to be in many places at once. Other examples include Puma's 'Maya', created in March 2021 for their Southeast Asia market, 'Rae', a virtual team member introduced to Yasmin Sewell's well-being brand Vyrao just this month, and Prada’s ‘Candy’, introduced specifically for a fragrance launch last month.

Alongside this recent phenomenon of avatar's, brands are turning real people virtual - a term called digital doubles. Whilst there have been more minor examples of this such as Amazon’s creation of a virtual avatar of Justin Bieber to interact with fans in an attempt to promote his music release of November 2020 – more drastic examples are growing, illustrated by ABBA’s forthcoming avatar concerts for their new album Voyage.

The world-renowned group have returned this year with new music but will not be physically partaking in the countless shows that will take place in London over the latter half of 2022, and instead, their avatar counterparts, which resemble their younger selves, will be performing night after night. And despite their physical selves not being there, the shows continue to sell out and many Las Vegas venues are reportedly in a ‘bidding war’ over who will hold the potential 2024 Abba avatar residency!

Whilst it is quite baffling that people want to watch computer-generated avatars perform, with a band as iconic as Abba, this method of touring could be favoured for many older pop groups and bands looking to re-surge their careers as they can put on many more shows without tiring as they don’t even need to be there.

Both of these main uses of computer-generated avatars contribute to the ever-increasing gap from reality – taking people away from real life situations and keeping them in an internet focused world. The topic is therefore very controversial.

In the past five to ten years, we have seen the rise of influencers and their importance in marketing and social media, with the likes of Kim Kardashian and youtubers such as Molly-Mae Hague earning thousands for one single post.

However, in more recent years, with this further development of computer-generated avatars, who can do the exact same things as real influencers for a much cheaper price - it can be understandable why some big brands are turning their heads, and their money, to this method of advertising. Where do you stand on the use of computer-generated avatars? A step into reality too far or a sign of progression?

Photo credits: @yooz @prada @abbavoyage @vulcanpost Sources: British Vogue Courier Magazine

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