The following is an edited excerpt of a story that was originally published on Vogue Business in China. Read the full article in English here or visit Vogue Business in China on WeChat.
Western CGI-generated influencers such as Lil’ Miquela and Shudu have emerged in recent years as digital supermodels that can work directly with brands. But creators of digital influencers in Asia have been several steps ahead in opening up a new world of opportunities for brand partnerships.
Long before Lil’ Miquela appeared on the scene (2016, with Shudu arriving a year later), virtual idols were already popular in Japan and China as virtual singers – vocaloids. Hatsune Miku, created in 2007, is considered the first virtual pop star, making her first concert appearance as a holographic projection at a Japanese music festival in 2009. She has partnered with brands including Google and Toyota and has been dressed by Louis Vuitton and Givenchy.
Luo Tianyi, a Chinese vocaloid created in 2012, has emerged as an influential CGI figure. As with Miku, Luo offers fans secondary creation options: they can control her image or give her songs to sing. Her videos on popular video-sharing website Bilibili are full of bullet comments flashing across the screen that cite “66CCFF” — the hex code for Luo Tianyi’s official colours. She is the first Chinese virtual idol to hold an offline live concert and has appeared on TV Spring Festival gala shows.
Western brands are taking note. Virtual influencers such as Miku and Tianyi offer a powerful route to connecting with young, hyper-digital Gen Z consumers.
The full article read on the Vogue Business