This week we’ve seen yet another run of big name endorsements, ranging from Jessica Biel’s photoshoot for Revlon, to Carrie Underwood’s Olay ads and Katie Melua becoming the band ambassador for Vauxhall.
Choosing a brand ambassador or forging an endorsement partnership is an area that brands enter into with a mix of anticipation and dread. Netting a big name act for the most part is a corporate win, enabling a brand to engage with consumers via a familiar face across a variety of channels. Furthermore the financial benefits seem to be outweighing the risks, with a recent report in Ad Age suggesting that sales for some brands increased up to 20% upon commencement of an an endorsement deal, with some seeing a stock increase of .25% on the day the deal is announced to the general public.
However, there is still a high element of risk. This is a human being you are striking an alignment with, and – as we know only too well - human beings are fallible, celebrities doubly so.
What if there was a way to develop a brand ambassador that could be molded and controlled at will. In short a way to remove the human element that poses the unstable risk?
While it may still be the stuff of sci fi, the prospect of hologram or robotic brand ambassadors is starting to look increasingly plausible. Two recent innovations are worth considering when it comes to artificial ambassadors.
Firstly, meet Hatsune Miku, the holographic singer that is selling out massive stadium tours across Japan (see the video below). Hatsune, created by Crypton Future Media, is a physical presentation of the Vocaloid 2 speech synthesis engine from Yamaha, yet she has as much appeal as other pop stars, without the likelihood of falling off the rails or being spotted with a rival brand in her hand.
The artificial ambassador is not only evident in music, with news of a new robotic actress appearing on the theatrical boards. Geminoid F, a female robot who is controlled by a real person, recently took to the stage in Japan alongside actual actors in a 20 minute performance. The robot - which highlights the most progressive use of facial expressions - was modeled on an actual women in her 20s, created by Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro as part of his work at the ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories.
Both Hatsune and Geminoid F are clearly some way from a finished product when compared to their human counterparts, however, as technology continues to innovate and offer more human like elements that consumers can relate to, the opportunity to evolve a brand ambassador form the ground up, that grows and ages with consumers is possibly the next brave step for the forward thinking brand.