Are virtual influencers a fiction or fast-becoming a reality?

Influencers have become part of the marketing landscape for brands big and small. Let’s look at an example. Mr Ballen,  a storyteller who focuses on ‘the strange, dark, and mysterious’ will pause his narration to promote a brand. As you can see below, NordVPN has cashed in on Mr Ballen’s cache to offer a special deal.


It’s not hard to understand the appeal. Mr Ballen has 7.52m subscribers – so the brand exposure for NordVPN here is going to be huge. But how does this link in with the concept of virtual influencers?

What is a virtual influencer?

A virtual influencer is CGI-generated. Brought to life through technology, they look, talk, and act like a normal human being. So much so you’d struggle to tell the difference.

Virtual influencers can be garbed in whichever clothing their creator wants to promote, placed against any desired backdrop, and even enter into relationships with other computer-generated companions.

Dressing up CGI folk in trendy clothes and editing them into far-flung locations sounds like fun but it’s not really marketing, is it? It’s the modern equivalent of what we did as kids: dressing up our favourite dolls or action figures and creating fantastical stories.

what is a virtual influencer?

The pros of virtual influencers

Admittedly the concept sounds daft. But stick with us because virtual influencers are here to stay – and will probably feature in your competitors’ campaigns in the near future.

Some of the benefits of virtual influencers include…

Creative control

Just think, you get to decide what your influencer looks like, their gender, how they dress and talk and so much more. All without the need to negotiate because these attributes can be added (albeit at cost) by specialist technicians on a computer. 

More content

Unlike a real person virtual influencers always turn up to work on time, don’t need to take breaks, and can work around the clock for your business without complaint.

This equates to more…

  • Insta posts
  • TikTok reels
  • YouTube Shorts

…and any other form of visually-driven content your business uses to engage with its audience. 

VR influencer

Lead the charge

Early adopters gain a significant advantage over competitors when they take a leap of faith. Virtual influencers are still trending – with many businesses and organisations hesitating to dip their toes in the proverbial water.

  • Will it make my brand look fake?
  • What if my campaigns fall flat?
  • What if there’s a backlash?

True, virtual influencers aren’t the right fit for every brand or sector; but testing is the cornerstone of marketing. So why not involve your audience by trialling different avatars to see which, if any, generate positive feedback.

The cons of virtual influencers

The recent collapse of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse project – which cost billions and promised to transform how consumers interact with brands – should serve as a warning to brands to approach a new trend with caution.

Reasons to be wary of virtual influencers include…

  • Authenticity. CGI-generated influencers can look fake depending on the technology used to create them. 
  • Impersonal. Fictional people can’t interact with your products or customers – which could have a detaching effect.
  • Risk. Virtual influencers are new and there’s a risk the technology could fall flat or generate controversy.

There’s no ‘right’ answer

Meta failed but ChatGPT and Bard are flying – despite Musk’s plea to put Pandora back in her box. In the same vein, investing in virtual influencers may or may not work for your brand.

The overarching question to ask is whether CGI influencers are right for your product, sector, and audience – as opposed to copying a trend for fear of missing out.

  • Car manufacturers
  • Sportswear firms
  • Perfume brands 
  • Travel agents 

All of the above could reap benefit from investing in virtual influencers to run their campaigns – because their products are designed to be experienced. 

Prefer talking to real people? Then speak to one of our friendly experts

If you’re not sure about partnering up with a fictional personality then speak to one of our real team members. Book your free consultation and let’s talk.

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