M&S adds virtual persona Mira to its Insiders staff influencer program | Advertising
Marks & Spencer has introduced an AR-powered “virtual influencer” persona as part of its “M&S Insiders” initiative that uses staff as influencers, a move designed to help the brand appeal more to young, tech-savvy consumers.
Appearing on the M&S Instagram account, Mira – which stands for “Marks & Spencer, Influencer, Reality, Augmented” – was developed in conjunction with creative tech agency Happy Finish using a combination of photography and CGI. The virtual character will create “real world” content.
The virtual character is one of five new additions to M&S Insiders, bringing the total to 13. Insiders come from a variety of roles within the company, including store assistants, stylists, buyers and designers . They produce social content, share style tips and product recommendations with their social followers. M&S reported generating a 30% higher engagement rate on average than external influencers.
As a result, Mira will be promoting the latest “M&S collections, trends and style tips, as one in four people in the UK say they are influenced by social media when buying clothes”. As a digital AR character, M&S will be able to test and learn, using it to respond to trending conversations “paced and nimble with how and when content is captured”, while hopefully engaging “a younger audience and building a community with a demographic that is interested in this new form of technology.”
Other new Insiders include a menswear stylist called Dan, two focused on kidswear called Sharon and Jodie, and Bethany, who focuses on beauty.
Anna Braithwaite, M&S Apparel & Home Marketing Director, said: “We are delighted to welcome Mira, the UK’s first virtual retail influencer, to our M&S Insider family. Its introduction is just the latest example of how M&S has become bolder in experimenting with emerging technologies and trends to inspire our customers – whether it’s our Live Shopping events or our online expert consultation, such as digital bra fitting.
“A virtual influencer means we can be faster at trending/live conversations and opens up possibilities in both the physical and virtual world in the future. I look forward to hearing customer feedback and seeing where we take it.” Mira then.”
Jeremy Yates, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Happy Finish, added: “A big part of our work for M&S is to help the brand find new ways to bring their product lines to life and enrich the customer experience. Creating Mira to complement the existing M&S Insiders team is ready to do both.”