Dentsu joins the virtual influencer game with a dedicated virtual identity service

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Dentsu Creative Singapore has unveiled a new service for brands that promises to extract organic marketing results from entirely artificial creative assets.

The agency offers a “virtual identity” service that combines cinema-quality motion capture, streaming, and CGI technology to create avatars or virtual characters that become brand assets or mascots. The team working on the service will be led from Singapore by creative director Stan Lim.

Agencies and startups such as Live and Breathe and Brud have already created virtual personas, primarily to use them as “influencers.” Dentsu’s foray into the industry marks the first time a network or holding agency has engaged in this practice. The agency says the service is the “first of its kind” and has been in development since early 2021.

Dentsu Creative’s Virtual Identity team created a demo character named Rumi, after the medieval Persian poet / Dentsu Creative Singapore

Fred Levron, global creative director, Dentsu International, said growing interest and investment in the Metaverse meant there was an opportunity for the agency. “The lines between the online and offline world are increasingly blurred, and we’re poised to tip over to see the potential of the metaverse fully realized,” he said.

“Brands need to show where their customers are, and we’re ready to help our customers invent a future where they can interact with their consumers online as emotionally as they could in a physical store, during a concert or event.”

In plain language, the agency offers clients the option to create bespoke personas to suit their audience and brand profile, or use a range of “out-of-the-box” virtual identities. Dentsu Creative Singapore offers support for long-term projects, as well as short- and medium-term activations. A Dentsu Creative Singapore spokesperson declined to name any of the customers currently using the service.

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The team created a demo character for the agency named Rumi – a first name in Japanese, and also the namesake of a 13th century Persian poet whose line “live life as if everything is rigged in your favor” . I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives inside” formed the inspiration for the character.

An agency spokesperson confirmed that Dentsu Creative Singapore was also the team behind Rae, a virtual influencer who collaborated with real brands and posted NFTs (and landed real Vogue interviews) last year.

Prema Techinamurthi, managing director of Dentsu Creative Singapore, told The Drum that virtual influencers shouldn’t be the only use case for the technology, noting that it could be useful to an advertiser “already investing heavily in influencers. humans, a brand that wants a foray into virtual influencers, or simply one looking to improve the customer experience.

Previous designs were largely limited to proof-of-concept characters, such as Brud’s Lil Miquela or Shudu Gram, created by photographer Cameron-James Wilson and agency The Diigitals.

Auckland-based startup Soul Machines, however, offers customers the ability to create similar virtual personas for employment in customer service roles. The Drum explored the company’s pitch to mainstream brands and went behind the scenes of creating a demo character in 2019.

According to its press release, the agency suggests that the service could be applied to create not just virtual influencers, but “NPCs in the metaverse and game worlds… AI-focused product experts, CX representatives in physical stores, e-commerce platforms, live selling and mobile apps.”

Dentsu’s product would primarily rely on actors working with motion capture suits to “control” a virtual character “in real time”. Wardrobe, props, lighting, background and decor would be produced in a game engine, while “virtual identities” would exist primarily on social and streaming platforms such as Discord, Twitch and Tik Tok.

The agency also offers brands the ability to stage real-life appearances of their characters indoors and outdoors using holograms or on remote working platforms such as Zoom.

“Dentsu VI is a game-changer for brands that want to innovate the way they appear in the digital world,” said Techinamurthi.

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