A Q&A with Fara Darvill, Growth Director
Why is the rise of the CGI influencer significant for brands? Building brands is big business and influencers have become an important part of brand marketing campaigns in the past decade. While influencers are not a new concept, in the past brands looked to the influence of global performers and movie stars, reality TV in the 90s and social media in the 00s created the next-gen of influencers and a new kind of 'celebrity.' These were ordinary people with no perceivable talent just the willingness to talk and share.
And for a long time, brands enjoyed successful relationships with influencers – a post from a Kardashian on Insta could lead to a sell-out product in hours, and in the UK, it was the same with Zoella in beauty and Mrs Hinch has done wonders for cleaning products.
The key to a successful relationship is that an influencer must be aligned to the collaborator brand’s values... And therein lies the rub.
Things started to turn sour in the last few years with influencers not being authentic in their posts, being caught out by not really using the products they endorse or obviously staging their posts – à la blogger, Scarlett London's disastrous Listerine promo – which is a turnoff for consumers, who aren't afraid to voice their disdain.
The big issue with collaborating with influencers is that they are real people who have real problems, which, if exposed, can leak into the brands they are promoting. Real people make mistakes that can ultimately cost their brand partner a lot of money if they do something that could tarnish the brand’s reputation.
CGI-animated influencers cut this risk because they don’t exist! They can’t be caught in compromising situations or have their personal opinions used against them. They can be completely controlled, creators can choose every aspect of their personas, how they sound or look, even where they are.
Virtual influencers are gaining follower traction – Lil Miquela has 1.6million and has collaborated with Samsung – they are reliable (they don’t have personal problems) and offer a sanitised reassurance to brands that want to collaborate with them. But more importantly, brands can create their own versions of the perfect influencer and build it into their brand world.
Having control is the holy grail for brands that invest a lot of money in an influencer. The influencer can be 'perfect'. Brands can align their values and the influencer can 'live' those values consistently to support the brand's integrity and expectations.
While it may be a significant shift right now, watching what happens next with this type of influencer is going to be really interesting. Is perfect going to be enough?