mazon Music entered the virtual influencer space earlier this month via premier partnership with Justin Bieber, sponsoring him to release a cover of “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” and promoting the release via virtual influencer marketing. The new song is exclusively available on Amazon Music.
What’s unique about Amazon+Bieber’s approach is the decision for the virtual influencer campaign to last a single day rather than, say, a couple of weeks—or forever. Most virtual influencer creation campaigns last a few weeks at minimum, as was the case with KFC's Colonel Sanders or Grimes' WarNymph, but this campaign represents a future of micro virtual influence.
Without overthinking it, Amazon simply has no immediate need for Virtual Justin beyond a single sponsored post. That is, until they decide to amplify the campaign further or double down by dropping another video, bringing Virtual Justin back to life once again to engage with fans further.
“‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ has always been one of my favorite songs to celebrate the holidays, and I’m excited to team up with Amazon Music to share my own version, with my fans.”
IYKYK: Bieber has made major career moves to re-enter the music scene and rebrand himself along the way. His decision to use a digital double demonstrates social acumen, relevance, and currency among younger audiences, aiding his move to literally redefine himself in a digital age.
The concept of ‘going virtual’ is a growing trend among celebrities in the music industry, and for good reason. Virtual influencers not only enhance engagement rates thanks to glance value, they come with a range of other benefits.
Unpack the value in the context of Amazon+Bieber. Beyond heading to a recording studio for a short session, Bieber didn’t have to appear in any content or do any work. His managing team most likely struck the partnership necessary to bring Virtual Justin to life, with Bieber simply giving his approval to go virtual for the campaign. Low effort, high return.
This branded moment of “going virtual” will live in the minds of Bieber’s followers. Amazon created a magical moment for his fans while embedding themselves in the memory of that moment. A celebrity taking their first steps as a virtual influencer is a huge deal for the celebrity, the fans, and the brand alike.
Virtual Bieber’s short-term appearance will have long-term impact as the world discovers more digital experiences, constantly reflecting on the digital innovations of the past—like Virtual Justin. How could you, the reader, create a virtual influencer that will be memorable years down the line?
A celebrity taking their first steps as a virtual influencer is a huge deal for the celebrity, the fans, and the brand alike.
Another major benefit to Amazon+Bieber is the potential to revisit the partnership with ease. Now that Virtual Justin exists as a digital asset thanks to Genies, either team can, depending on the nature of the contract, bring Virtual Justin back to life and drive the narrative further with ease.
Imagine—what would it look like if Virtual Justin had his own Instagram running in tandem to @justinbieber, forever? Bieber would expand his fanbase by appealing to new audiences while doubling down on engagement with super fans. He could be more, do more, see more, say more, and, ultimately, drive his mission more. Virtual Justin is a glimpse into the future of celebrity influence.
Bieber isn’t the only celebrity in the music industry to step into the uncanny valley; more and more music videos, album covers, and sponsored posts are leveraging digital doubles to engage fans.
After the infamous passing of Jarad Higgins (JUICE WRLD), he was commemorated in the form of a virtual character to continue his legacy. His fans absolutely love it and are glad to see him respected through a virtual character performing his previously-unreleased music.
If you are a brand, consider how you can execute the successful strategy demonstrated by Amazon+Bieber through sponsoring that magical, memorable moment of a celebrity going virtual.
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