Digitizing a Persona

The All-In-One Influencer

It is a debate on the utility and proven success of influencer marketing, however the demand is still strong to fulfill brand niche out there. Where some idols fall short, brands are now circumventing the supply shortage by introducing a virtual influencer of their own. A virtual influencer is created digitally in 3D software and visual effects. They get almost lifelike from augmented charm and wits, rivaling the best human counterparts with millions of followers.

In early 2016, Louis Vuitton‘s Nicolas Ghesquière tapped a Final Fantasy video game character to star in the brand’s Spring campaign alongside real life models. The casting represented “a global, heroic woman for a world where social networks and communications are now seamlessly woven into our life.” The campaign was successful at being inclusive, but is it inclusive when it is intangible?

Take a look at what we mean with our chosen roster of upcoming virtual influencers to watch.


Fashion photographer Cameron-James Wilson made Shudu in the beginning of 2017 using a program called Daz 3-D. The model was just one of many creations he made — “aliens, planets, everything” — and in April of that year he shared her first Instagram post. Shudu now has more than 120,000 followers, up from 60,000 in March. Shudu the virtual influencer has even bamboozled bigger brands such of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty on whether she’s a real, living, breathing supermodel.

Watch WWD's collaboration with Shudu in her own digital spread

Shudu on InstagramShudu on Instagram
Noonoouri Virtual Influencer

Putting even the best of Japanese anime icons in envy, Noonoouri is a virtual influencer that opposes the uncanny valley. Her cartoony proportions defy the traditional expectations of fashion, yet brands from Saint Laurent to Versace, Riccardo Tisci, Nike and Supreme can’t seem to resist her. Even Carine Roitfeld is “caught having breakfast together” with Nooonoouri. Joerg Zuber creative director at the branding and design agency Opium describes it as “digital haute couture”, haute couture being exquisitely handcrafted.

Zuber designed her to be “innovative, entertaining and very personal and honest,” with an altruistic side as well. “She is a fantasy, stepping into our world to show us things like we maybe have never seen them before”. At only “eighteen” years-old, Noonoouri now tops close to 80k followers on Instagram.

Lil Miquela on InstagramLil Miquela on Instagram
Lil Miquela

In selfies, you can see the freckles on Miquela’s face; her gap-toothed smile. But up close, her brown hair, often pulled into Princess Leia–esque buns, looks airbrushed (Twitter users have noted that her flyaway frizz always falls in the same pattern). Her skin reads as smooth as the glass screen that separates us. And when you peer into Miquela’s big brown eyes, she fails the ultimate test of humanity. A creative joint venture by Brud, Miquela commands over a million followers on Instagram.

An Immortal Icon

With a digital persona, brands are able to age, scale or downsize as they please. The idea is more alluring than contracting models that age naturally and take time to fit or be styled in a particular fashion. A virtual influencer comes with limitless possibilities in adapting with almost any brand out there. Shudu and Noonoouri could represent any diverse community of their choice, with just a few clicks and processing. They are also more democratic, where the audience gets to choose which Noonoouri they want to see, or even be someday.

Are you a brand, or a content creator looking to harness the power of social media influencers? Tell us what you think about this upcoming trend on virtual influencers leading digital advertising in the future.

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