The Rise of CGI Influencers

Posted by Flux on 

28 March 2018

Above: The character Lightning from Final Fantasy in Louis Vuitton’s Series 4 Campaign

The evolution of technology has brought many changes to our personal and business spaces.

2018 has been a year where we have seen the continued infiltration of AI (artificial intelligence) and CGI (computer generated images) generated avatars into industries other than gaming. Companies have seen the benefits of harnessing this amazing technology to reach a new demographic, once thought to be inaccessible.

Fashion and consumer brands are embracing a future reality where humans will not be needed to perform certain jobs – in this case, that of social media influencer. Below are a few examples of how CGI models are developing a bridge between the realm of digital technology and real life, while also delivering a unique and 21st century brand experience.

Above left: Alex Hunter from EA Sport’s Fifa ’17 and Fifa ’18.

Alex Hunter
Alex Hunter is a nineteen-year-old, fictional game series character. He was created by EA Sports to give Fifa game fanatics a more immersive and interactive experience and relatable influencer. His likeness and voice are British actor, Adetomiwa Edun’s. EA Sports launched its first game “The Journey” in 2017 which follows the character as he gradually rises to prominence in the soccer world. In 2018 Coca Cola Zero Sugar signed him up as a virtual ambassador for the brand. EA Sports has since launched a follow-up game titled “The Journey: Hunter Returns”. What’s interesting about this character is the length to which the creators have gone to create an authentic virtual ambassador who has a story to tell, with parents and relationships. He also features in the Adidas “First Never Follows” campaign in EA Fifa ’17. The EA Fifa ’18 game has some new additions which allow gamers to customise Alex’s appearance and clothing. Unlike the CGI influencers below, Alex Hunter can only be accessed if one purchases the Fifa game series he features in.

Above: Coca Cola Zero Sugar Promotion

Above: Shudu wearing Fenty Beauty lipstick

Shudu (@shudu.gram )
Shudu, a creation by digital artist and photographer Cameron James-Wilson, shot to prominence when an image of her wearing Rihanna’s SAW-C tangerine lip colour was reposted on Fenty Beauty’s Instagram feed. She is a CGI model who Wilson developed as a form of self-expression rather than for profit. Many were not aware that this swarthy beauty was not real until Wilson, who had omitted to tag the visuals as art, started typing #3Dart in the captions. Some felt he had no right as a white cisgender male to create a model of a woman of colour but the overwhelming response has been positive, with Shudu seen as a celebration of beauty. Responding to comments from around the world, Wilson now says he is keen to join the conversation around diversity in the modelling industry. He also plans to take part in discussions about digital software that allows creatives to generate more diverse CGI characters.

Above: Miquela wearing a Burberry coat in her V Magazine shoot.

Michaela Sousa (@lilmiquela)
Flux Trends first uncovered Michaela, a biracial (half Brazilian, half Spanish), 20-year-old social media influencer, in our Zeitgeist 2018 Presentation. She is also a virtual celebrity, a musician to be exact, who has released a debut single on Spotify. “Not Mine” reached the number eight spot on the streaming service’s viral list in August 2017. She has a human boyfriend and human friends. She updates her followers on her activities, which include flying drones at a Prada fashion show, and running the Instagram campaign for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection. She’s even written to Congress in the US to raise awareness about transgender rights and to push for change.  She’s an activist, a model and a brand ambassador. She has even had interviews with several publications. In conversation with Business of Fashion, she refers to herself as an artist who earns a living through music and modelling. The difference between Michaela and the other CGI influencers mentioned above, is that she appears to relate to others independently of her creator, who chooses to remain anonymous. With a whopping 838k followers on Instagram, it’s clear that people find her interesting and relate to her and that’s why brands like Pat McGrath have asked her to endorse their products. Although the details of how and why she was created are shrouded in mystery, she has given us a glimpse of a future where CGI Influencers can and will go.

Above: Miquela’s “You should be alone” video.

By: Tumelo Mojapelo

*CGI – Computer generated imagery

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About Tumelo
Tumelo Mojapelo is a silent force behind the scenes at Flux Trends, and steers the direction of the content created by the Flux Trends Team. Her interest in trends analysis emanates from her desire to want to give people opportunities to do, think and act better – to make better decisions because they understand the connections between seemingly unrelated factors and phenomena.


Image credit: Louis Vuitton AND Creativity Online AND Shudu.Gram AND V Magazine
Video credit: Cocal Cola AND Miquela

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