Do Celebrity Influencers Have To Be Real People, Or Can You Make Fake Ones On Your Computer?

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Written by Ann Brown

Miquela has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. She is undoubtedly a social media influencer. She’s been in worldwide advertising campaigns for such brands as Ugg and dropped singles on Spotify. She describes herself as a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model and musical artist.

Only thing is that Miquela, or “Lil Miquela” as she is known, isn’t real. She’s a computer-generated influencer, a made-up social-media celebrity.


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“Miquela was created by a Los Angeles startup called Brud, which is betting that it can turn her and an expanding group of CGI-based social-media personalities into a cast of characters that is one part Marvel Comics and one part Kardashian,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Brud created Miquela on Instagram in 2016, but it wasn’t until recently that the company revealed on social media that Miquela was fake.

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“You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human,” said Cyan Banister, a partner at Founders Fund. In May 2017 Founders Fund invested $100,000 for Brud’s seed round. Brud also reportedly raised an additional $6 million in venture capital from such firms as Sequoia Capital and BoxGroup.

Miquela looks real. “In selfies, you can see the freckles on Miquela’s face; her gap-toothed smile. But up close, her brown hair, often pulled into Princess Leia–esque buns, looks airbrushed (Twitter users have noted that her flyaway frizz always falls in the same pattern). Her skin reads as smooth as the glass screen that separates us. And when you peer into Miquela’s big brown eyes, she fails the ultimate test of humanity,” The Cut reported.

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Miquela has been a hit with her fans. They love to see what she’s wearing, where she’s going, what she’s saying. According to the WSJ, Lil Miquela’s Instagram audience is 63 percent female and 37 percent male. Her followers skew on the younger side.

And if Miquela were human she could earn between $12,000 and $25,000 per post to promote a product.

Miquela isn’t Brud’s only social media creation. The firm wants to create an array of characters. Besides Miquela there’s a blond-haired blue-eyed character named Bermuda, who is the opposite of Miquela. While Miquela has supported Black Lives Matters, Bermuda is a Trump supporter. Of course, this has caused tension between the two played out on social media. In fact, Bermuda, ironically, called Miquela “fake.”

“I think the success of digital talent is in their engagement and their authenticity,” said Adam Wescott, partner at Select Management Group, a talent agency for influencers. “And to what extent can you be authentic if ultimately you’re not even a real being?”


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.