CGI Influencers: Why They Became Successful And Why They Won’t Last

Photo Credit:  Lil Miquela/Instagram

Photo Credit: Lil Miquela/Instagram

CGI. What is it? How do we use it? Why is it relevant in influencer marketing?

Computer Generated Imagery has been around for decades. We all remember the Atari game Pong, or the mobile-friendly Snake which came preloaded on every early-aughts Nokia cell phone. Nowadays, CGI takes form in highly produced video like Avatar or Black Panther and has even extended its reach to social media. 

The popularity of CGI influencers is hard to miss. From Lil’ Miquela to the new-and-improved Colonel Sanders on KFC’s account (a genius move on Wieden + Kennedy’s part), they’re nearly ubiquitous.

The rise of CGI influencers comes from shock factor. We’re sixteen years into the business of influencers: Myspace and Wordpress launched in 2003. People became attached to influencers based on their personalities and their senses of style - it was fully original and every standout influencer was unique.

The days of original style of bloggers is long gone: Bryan Boy, Man Repeller, Fashion Toast, Karla’s Kloset, Sea of Shoes all had exceedingly unique points of view and carved out their own version of success due to their eye-catching style. Most started as bloggers, and as our digital attention spans decreased along with content length, so did their focus. From WordPress to Instagram to Twitter to Snapchat - content length was shortened and there’s no doubt we’ve been attracted to shorter-form digestible content in order to consume more.

Now that ‘influencer’ is a legitimate job description, you’ll find young, ambitious internet stars on every corner of SoHo shooting near-identical imagery to each other. Filters are ubiquitous, captions are short, personality is lacking. Authentic audiences are coming harder and harder to find because there’s not much unique or eye-catching about this new type of content.

Enter the CGI influencer. They’re unique, offer shock value, provide a sense of camaraderie for outsiders looking in. Companies like Brud, the one who produces Lil’ Miquela, have started developing entire rosters of animated influencers to drive shock value and awareness (a great PR move, frankly).
Just as with anything that shocks, the CGI influencer will remain an intriguing fad and will end there. The draw of real influencers will remain for personality, for something unique, for a fresh perspective. The standout new influencers who offer that (Officially Quigley, Jera Bean, Orion Vanessa) will win in the long run for offering something that CGI can’t: a human perspective, a connection with readers, and a compelling reason to seek them out, again and again, like a digital best friend with great advice.