When the Coronavirus hit the world, many people lost their loved ones, had to shut down the business, and got fired from their jobs. But there are some people—not real—who are earning money and making hundreds of thousands of fans online during this pandemic time.
They are virtual influencers—Seraphine, Imma, and Plusticboy—and all of them have hundreds of thousands of social media followers. Many netizens became fans of these virtual human personalities as they thought they are real humans.
Christopher Travers, the founder of virtualhumans.org said that even though these virtual influencers are fake, they have real business potential. According to him compared to real people, in the long term, they are cheaper to work with, and "are 100 percent controllable, can appear in many places at once, and, most importantly, they never age or die."
Fake but Unbelievable
There are currently almost 125 active virtual influencers and Seraphine is one of them. The drop-dead beauty of Seraphine, who has long flowing hair, attracted thousands of fans after the news came out that she was created by video game developers Riot Games Inc. Currently, she has more than 410,000 followers on Instagram, and on Twitter, there are over 343,000 followers. Seraphine is described as a songwriter and appears in Shanghai to promote her music.
A Virtual Human agency called Aww, created Imma, Plusticboy, and RIA. The bright pink hair, stylish wardrobe, and attractive appearance made many people believe that she is human. Her Instagram followers see her partnership with IKEA and Salvatore Ferragamo SpA. Imma also shot editorials with fashion magazines. She participates in viral challenges such as #shoechallenge and #nomakeupchallenge.
Yumi An Anzai, a director at Aww, which is a Japanese start-up said, "When we created her look, we wanted to think like how overseas [people] think of Japan, so that was the idea of her originally. We just believed in the possibilities of the future and then the market followed." However, RIA has 32, 500 followers, and Plusticboy has over 46,000 followers on Instagram.
Superplastic Inc, a Vermont-based animation and entertainment branding company created its own virtual influencers--Janky and Guggimon who have 2.3 million Instagram followers between them. Janky looks like a cat and known for being a "celebrity stuntman," while Guggimon is a bunny with shark-like teeth.
In one of the images, both of them can be seen standing in front of the PRADA store, wearing outfits from the fashion house, while posing next to a destroyed DeLorean car. As per the Superplastic founder Paul Budnitz, "All our characters wear real clothing labels, eat real food and drive real cars. So it's a mix between reality and hyper-reality."
Even though this trend has just started, these virtual characters are showing how money can be made online and the potential for more content as well as creative ideas.