Virtual characters emerge as a new trend in digital marketing

SM Entertainment

The Korea Times


Virtual characters emerge as a new trend in digital marketing

SM Entertainment's girl band, aespa, and their virtual avatars / Courtesy of SM Entertainment
SM Entertainment’s girl band, aespa, and their virtual avatars / Courtesy of SM Entertainment

By Kim Jae-heun

Virtual characters are emerging as a trend in the digital advertising market since, unlike human business models, they hardly run the risk of being swept up in scandals, crime and other negative social situations that can affect their images.

The biggest advantage of hiring a virtual character is that there are no time or space restrictions on their activities. Businesses can also optimize the image of a digital model to suit their promotional needs. In other words, artificial characters can become any kind of entertainer, be it actor, fashion model or singer, and their talents can be customized according to the wishes of the brand.

Unlike humans, virtual characters are a better option in terms of cost and risk management. They can work all day all year round and there is very little chance of a fuss.

Due to these advantages, digital humans are emerging as an attractive business model for both growth and profitability in the entertainment industry. Business experts say that companies’ spending on digital human marketing will grow to 16.6 trillion won by next year.

Lil Miquela is the epitome of the digital human model. The character, created in 2016 but said to be a 19-year-old Brazilian-American, has 3.02 million followers on Instagram, and her digital single was the eighth most popular on streaming audio service Spotify.

She has modeled for world-renowned fashion brands such as Chanel and Prada, and has signed a contract with Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s top three agencies.

In 2020 alone, Miquela earned 13 billion won ($ 11.33 million). She makes $ 8,500 per Instagram post.

Virtual characters are also becoming popular here.

Samsung Electronics unveiled its first virtual character, NEON, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, and LG Electronics revealed the first at CES 2021 that was held online in January.

The existence of the Metaverse is helping virtual characters in advertising as they often appeal to the younger generation. In the near future, more companies will use virtual characters for their advertising instead of human celebrities.

“As the ‘big blur’ phenomenon continues to blur the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds, marketing using virtual characters will become more prominent,” said Seo Yong-gu, a business professor at Sookmyung Women’s University. .

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