rada just announced their first virtual human model, or “muse” as the brand calls it, to relaunch the Prada Candy fragrance in their ReThink Reality campaign. Named after the perfume, the virtual muse replaces the company’s traditional celebrity and influencer marketing strategy to better target the techy generation Z.

Prada Candy was initially launched in 2011 with young consumers in mind with the French actress Léa Seydoux as its first ambassador. Now, the L’Oréal-licensed brand is using a virtual model to stimulate digital interaction with young consumers as well as catalyze exploration into the future of virtual influence. As an in-house virtual model, Candy also helps the luxury brand take charge of its own digital narrative.

What do we know about Candy?

With her hyperreal features, Candy could easily be mistaken for a physical model at first glance. At a closer look, her magnetic purple eyes might give her digital identity away. The virtual muse interacts with the fragrance in a variety of content, including videos directed by filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and still images shot by photographer Valentin Herfray.  

In a statement, Prada describes Candy as an opportunity for the brand to reach new digital heights and milestones:

“As her own reality glitches, she begins to perceive another, expanding her existence through the power of technology. Free of constraints, her curiosity grows, new creative perspectives are opened and with them, an invitation to rethink reality.”  
Image by Prada

What is Prada’s relationship with virtual influencers?

This is not the first time Prada has rethought reality through a virtual influencer. The fashion house’s first embrace with virtual influencers occurred in 2018, when Lil Miquela took over their Instagram account during the Fall 2018 fashion week in Milan. Lil Miquela attended Prada’s fashion show and uploaded backstage videos and preview images of the collection. It was an eye-opening experience for consumers and the fashion industry, seeing the real and digital collide through a virtual human.

Since then, Prada has continued to work with Lil Miquela for their luxury marketing campaigns as well as dressing another virtual influencer, Noonoouri, in their outfits.    

Photo by Miquela

Why create a virtual muse?

By introducing their own virtual models, brands can control the content and storyline even more than they can in collaboration with external, established virtual influencers. In-house virtual models like Candy can prove to be valid digital marketing strategies to maintain authority over digital narratives. Brands can customize a virtual model’s looks, personality, and values to reflect the product and mirror their customers.

An in-house virtual model can also extend its digital presence from advertisement images and film to social media channels, building its influence and increasing brand awareness. With virtual influencers becoming more mainstream, their importance as marketing tools will only grow. It will be interesting to see when Prada introduces virtual muses to front their future fashion campaigns next.  

What do you think of Prada’s first virtual muse, Candy? How do you see future fashion and beauty campaigns being led by virtual muses?

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