19th April 2018 Anthony Cospito

“If the results are real does it matter if the influencer isn’t?”

By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy – MI&C

When a brand hires an influencer, what goes into the decision? An impressive follower base in the right demographic? Strong engagement and an authentic voice? Cross-over appeal with a top ten hit on Spotify? What if an influencer had all of the above – but just wasn’t… human?

Meet Miquela, or @lilmiquela as she’s known on Instagram where she’s got a fan base 740k strong. What makes her stand out, besides her top ten hit on Spotify? Miquela is a computer animation. Looking closer you can see it. Overly-smoothed skin, eyes slightly askew and alien-esque.

Despite her lack of flesh and blood, she is just as active on social media as her real world peers, complete with a passion for brands like Chanel, Vans, Supreme and Proenza Schouler. The person behind Miquela however is quite real. She’s a 19 year old LA model, half Brazilian, half Spanish to be specific.

She’s inspired by contemporary artists like Carly Mark, Martine Syms and Kerry James. “In fashion, I look to Isamaya Ffrench, Raf Simons, Sies Marjan and Alexandre Vauthier. I also love Reese Blutstein,” Miquela said in a recent (chat-based) interview with Business of Fashion.

While all-too-real non-disclosure agreements prevent her from saying which brands she’s working with, in true influencer fashion she teases a hint, “I can tell you that I’ve been shot in Chanel, Moschino, Burberry, Versace and Fendi,” she said.

Although her actual name is unknown, @lilmiquela’s identity is everywhere. VogueMarie ClaireThe Washington Post, and other publications are increasingly covering her. Real earned media, every bit of it.

In an recent Interview Magazine piece the artist behind the avatar said, “It’s an interesting time for reality, it’s being redefined by technology every day— fake news, fake body standards. Authenticity is a rare thing right now.” Miquela added another first to her list this week, she’s the only fictional it girl to ever team up with Prada.

According to Vogue, the luxury brand sees @lilmiquela as the perfect fit for the launch of their Instagram GIFs “featuring logos and prints from the Fall 2018 collection, including some, like the Spring 2010 flame shoe or Spring 2011 bananas, that nod to the Prada archive.”

One question remains. If the reach, authentic voice, and high engagement an influencer delivers are real, does it matter if the influencer isn’t?

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