Agency Network Features Virtual Influencer In Mixed-Reality SXSW Experience

To showcase the future of what is possible on the agency front, Plus Company -- a global network of 24 creative agencies -- is bringing “Cinder’s Cybersip” to South By Southwest (SXSW), an experience developed for festival attendees that promises to bridge the gap between the virtual and physical world.

The activation, which features a virtual influencer serving up unique cyber experiences and drinks inspired by their journeys through virtual worlds, was developed by the creative agency -- and one of Plus Company's agency brands -- We Are Social.

The virtual influencer featured in this activation is named Cinder (she/they), “a virtual human on a journey of self-discovery” who has her own Instagram and TikTok accounts.

The story goes: Cinder crashed their truck into Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street and opened up “Cinder's Cybersip,” a virtual bar of sorts open to all SXSW attendees willing to enjoy drinks from online worlds in a gamified experience.



Plus Company cites virtual influencers and their potential integration with artificial intelligence (AI) -- as well as brand marketing -- as a relevant example of how the network is attempting to foster exploration-based learning via investment in emerging tech.

“With the advanced capabilities of AI and the rise of platforms like ChatGPT, virtual influencers will increasingly be less reliant on their human counterparts to give audiences the feeling of engaging in real-time discussion,” the company states.

Plus Company defines virtual influencers as “a brand-ownable asset that provides efficiency and speed to market with minimal rounds of content revisions.”

The network views the potential of virtual influencers as an “alternative tool” for brands across industries to use for their influencer and social media marketing, ultimately delivering “almost three times the engagement of real influencers.”

One reason that Plus Company believes virtual influencers can be more effective than their human counterparts is their malleability -- they can easily be made to bridge virtual and physical world experiences.

“Web3 is marketing's next frontier and it's critical that we are at the forefront of exploring the utility and creative uses of this technology to future-proof our agencies and our clients,” says Brett Marchand, Plus Company CEO. “There is so much potential for businesses to foster more meaningful connections with consumers through the metaverse.”

In addition to furthering their introduction to Web3 and/or the metaverse, virtual influencers may be especially attractive to brands due to their ability to be controlled and monitored.

“Companies that cooperate with virtual influencers have the power to shape them, meaning there are fewer risks regarding personal values and beliefs that could be harmful to a brand's image or reputation,” writes Statista, which also cites a report showing that close to half of the influencers on Instagram were involved in fraudulent activity between 2019 and 2021.

SXSW takes place in Austin, Texas and will run March 10 through March 19.

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