Digital Influencers are the biggest invention of the decade. With big brands now favoring to collaborate with this bunch of individuals rather than celebrities, it is hardly surprising anymore. It is an attempt to connect more with the consumer or audience through the loyal following of these professionals. We have always been fascinated by influencers and their extravagant, envy-worthy on-camera lives. From their chiseled faces to their offbeat sense of style to perfect cinematic backdrops in their pictures; at some point of time, every one of us at least once has wondered if it all was real. Of course, it is real, except for some influencers that don’t really exist. Literally!
It was when Trevor Mcfedries and Sara Decou at Brud, A LA-based mysterious startup decided to push the envelope that a new star was born, one that only had a virtual existence. Miquela Sousa is a 19 years old musician, model and digital influencer with over 1.2 million Instagram followers. She already has endorsed for big couture giants like Proenza Schouler, Chanel and athleisure giants like Supreme, Vetements and Vans, to name a few. Lil Miquela attended the Prada AW ’18 and caught the attention of industry big shots like makeup giant Pat McGrath, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert and Margaret Zhang. She is the new it girl and hangs out with some of the coolest people in LA. Even though Miquela is not really real and just a trick of computer graphics, she already has 4 songs released on Spotify and other than being a fashion darling she also lends support for causes such as the rights of the LGBTQI+ community and Black lives matter.
After concealing her form of existence for almost 2 years, in April, Miquela’s Instagram account was “hacked” by Bermuda, another CGI Instagram figure. Bermuda pushed Miquela to reveal the truth about her existence: that she was a robot created by a shady Silicon Valley corporation and that her management had lied to her about her origins. Miquela posted about the difficulty of discovering she was not a real person. The drama not only endeared Miquela more fully to her fans through her pain and vulnerability, she seemed to become more real. It also boosted her follower count. That, in turn, makes her more attractive to brands.
Miquela is an unreal protagonist in a science-fiction-like narrative unfolding online. Her story redefining what it means to be authentic on social media, even what it means to be real and also giving us an insight into where branding and marketing might be headed.