In what may be a milestone moment for virtual and human influencer crossover, a new Calvin Klein spot depicts supermodel Bella Hadid making out with CGI star Lil Miquela.
The surreal video, part of the fashion brand’s latest iteration of its #MyCalvins campaign, aims to stretch its audience’s perception of reality, according to an accompanying description from the brand. Lil Miquela is the most popular name among a growing collection of computer-generated social media personalities that are attracting big audiences and promotional interest from brands.
“Life is about opening doors,” Hadid says in a voiceover, “creating new dreams you never knew would exist.”
The broader “I Speak My Truth” campaign, which also includes celebrity endorsers A$AP Rocky, Kendall Jenner, Troye Sivan and transgender icon Indya Moore, is themed around displays of personal vulnerability. In the brand’s own words, it “presents today’s most influential voices telling their own stories, in their own words — and invites others around the world to do the same.”
Created by an enigmatic Los Angeles startup called Brud, Lil Miquela has racked up around 1.5 million Instagram followers since her mysterious appearance online three years ago. As her popularity has grown, her creators have begun to experiment with more ways to bring the character into the physical world, including a seat at a Prada show, a turn in a music video and a recent appearance at Coachella.
This isn’t the first time a brand has explored the intimate possibilities of virtual influencers. Last week, YouPorn unveiled its own NSFW virtual brand persona called Jedy Vales, whose talents apparently include filming explicit video content.
Calvin Klein is famous for its long history of risqué advertising deliberately designed to push buttons. That spirit has apparently carried over as the brand ditched its iconic glossy print ads in February in favor of a “consumer-centric” approach centered on digital, video, experiential and other more modern channels.