French couture house Christian Dior turned to two special ambassadors to share its new lipstick line, reflecting changing sensibilities when trying to attract more social-media savvy consumers.
While the original launch film for Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge starred actress Natalie Portman, a recreation of the original short was released with Noonoouri, a virtual influencer. This is not the first time Noonoouri has worked with Dior, as computer-generated personalities are becoming more popular among luxury brands.
"Virtual influencers like Noonoouri have been popping up with increasing regularity in the luxury marketing space for the past few years," said Daymon Bruck, CCO and partner at The O Group, Seattle. "These virtual influencers have been adding an innovative cool factor to the brands, from heritage to streetwear, that engage them for social or campaign creative.
"Their value for a brand like Dior is perhaps more impactful than for a 'younger' luxury brand mostly due to the unexpected nature of virtual landscapes as a fresh platform," he said. "Especially for a heritage brand where the juxtaposition has a higher potential for attracting attention."
Dior's Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge lipsticks debuted in late summer. Longtime Dior ambassador Ms. Portman appeared in a short film applying red Dior lipstick while strutting around in a matching oversized sweater, with Prince's "Kiss" as the soundtrack.
The Noonoouri tribute video is nearly a shot-for-shot reenactment of Ms. Portman's film, down to the Dior ring both wear.
Noonoouri recreated Natalie Portman's short for Rouge Dior
Ms. Portman's spot is a fun, if traditional, marketing effort for a luxury brand but by having Noonoouri create her own version, Dior receives double the exposure and can reach younger audiences — especially on Noonoouri's most popular platform, Instagram — who are starting to develop interest in high-end beauty products.
Natalie Portman and Noonoouri for Dior. Image credit: Dior
Dior has several beauty-focused Instagram accounts, including @DiorMakeup, @DiorParfums and the recently-launched @DiorSkincare. Dior also has a user-generated content platform @DiorBeautyLovers, which compiles fan-created posts (see story).
Noonoouri also appeared on @DiorMakeup this summer to share a tutorial using the brand's summer products and inspired by its "Cool Wave" campaign.
One downside to Noonoouri's novelty is that her enhanced, doll-like features can not accurately portray how a lipstick or mascara may appear on a consumer. Models and celebrities still have the upper hand when it comes to authenticity.
While virtual personalities may be more cost-effective and eye-catching than their human counterparts, they tend to lag behind real influencers in driving brand goals such as awareness and engagement, according to a new report from Fashionbi. As luxury brands seek newness and differentiation, these personalities' lack of authenticity and transparency may hold them back (see story).
With more than 150,000 Instagram followers, computed-generated avatar Noonoouri has a large audience that a number of luxury brands have been interested in reaching.
Italian jeweler Buccellati enlisted the popular influencer to showcase the brand’s signature honeycomb pattern in a campaign that speaks to the social media generation. Other high-end brands Noonoouri has worked for include Gucci and Versace (see story).
Other fashion labels have turned to virtual influencers who are more life-like.
Balmain is the latest luxury brand to cast computer-generated models in its marketing, pointing to a growing trend of virtual ambassadors.
Taking inspiration from the diverse members of the “Balmain Army,” the label tapped photographer Cameron-James Wilson to create a series of images featuring a trio of 3D models.
In the images for Balmain, the models hold handbags from the brand’s BBox line. The virtual models are also posed in scenes that reflect iconic music imagery (see story).
"So far the influencer stars of the past year or so have been modeled to represent international, multicultural young women," Mr. Bruck said. "This is rich fantasy territory, in a virtual environment where anything can happen, for brands to play in and push reality to the limit — especially when the virtual catwalks becomes crowded with the same sort of faces and stereotypes."