Lil Miquela is the loveable robot the social media world has been waiting for.
In our modern age of egotistical social media influencers and excessive information sharing, we should already know to expect the unexpected. Over the weekend, Samsung added an unlikely character to its stylish Team Galaxy ensemble. Computer-generated model Lil Miquela is doing what no other A.I. has done before, bringing the world of virtual mavens to the forefront of advertising.
Excluding the loveable Geico gecko and Liberty Mutual’s LiMu Emu, advertisers tend to rely on memorable real-life actors and models to promote their products. But what’s better than hiring a famous face for buku bucks? Well, just computer-generate your own for half the price.
Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, is a 19-year-old American-Brazilian computer-generated model. The avant-garde social media influencer has racked up over 1.6 million followers on Instagram and, more recently, booking a spot on Samsung’s Team Galaxy campaign. Being featured alongside actress Millie Bobby Brown, DJ Steve Aoki, and live-stream gamer Ninja, Lil Miquela is a contemporary image of our ever-evolving technological future.
Designed and developed by Brud, a rather ambiguous L.A.-based A.I. company, Lil Miquela has created a massive social media fanbase. Her Instagram features her attending fashion shows, concerts, and even collaborating with celebs like model Bella Hadid and DJ Baauer. Besides posing in attire from big-name brands from Calvin Klein to Prada, many of her photos feature apparel from her own 2019 clothing line, Club 404.
At first glance, Lil Miquela’s authenticity is questionable. Her plump lips and doll-ish freckles are shockingly believable. But a closer look into her big brown eyes and stringy brown hair reveals nothing more than lines of code with an added dose of glamour. While she may seem like nothing more than a character from The Sims making it big in the real world, there’s much more story behind her than that of our everyday Instagram model.
Despite being known for her artificial good looks and positive attitude, Lil Miquela isn’t just another pretty face on the screen. Her character expresses liberal political views, promotion of self-love, and acceptance of the new and unusual. While her existence in the social media world may seem like all fun and games, her virtual dogma has left an uneasy feeling in the stomach of other computer-generated influencers and real-life humans alike.
In April of 2019, Lil Miquela’s Instagram was hacked by fellow CGI influencer, Bermuda, who sponsors opposing political views. Bermuda wiped all of Lil Miquela’s photos, replacing them with her own and demanding Lil Miquela to “promise to tell the truth” before her account would be returned to her. The feud between the two fictional characters has since been resolved, with Lil Miquela’s confession as being a robot, but it has left followers wondering if it was all an ingenious publicity stunt. Both Bermuda and Miquela have since posted photos with the other on their separate Instagram accounts.
It’s easy to forget that neither of these influencers are real. They may have views and opinions, but its all stemming from their creators who enjoy staying incognito in the depths of the internet. Luckily for these deceptive geniuses, all the fabricated drama has only increased the influencers’ popularity and has further proven that avid fans can dedicate themselves and their emotions to completely fictional characters. And in the case of those like Lil Miquela and Bermuda, the fabricated drama provides the publicity they, as new additions to the celebrity spotlight, always need to further their careers.
Shortly after the internet feud, Brud released a statement saying, “We’re a small team of artists, engineers, roboticists, and activists operating with the belief that technology can help bring about both a more empathetic world and a more tolerant future”. While Brud may be creating lovable artificial personalities that are advancing the use of A.I. in the advertising industry, the characters and their creators still have a lot to learn. The general public may have a hard time accepting artificial personalities as realistic influencers, especially since they tend to only replicate the generic image of young, skinny, and attractive females. So far, Lil Miquela seems to know what she’s doing but there’s no guessing how the boom of virtual influencers will affect public relations and promotions in the future. As consumers, we should all be aware that things may not always be as they seem.
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