Character Building: 3 Unexpected Ways Animation Is Used In Marketing

As the importance of social media as a marketing platform has risen, it’s become harder than ever to stand out. Companies are going to extraordinary lengths to attract (and maintain) the attention of potential customers, and one of the more modern tools they’re using to achieve this, is animation.

Animation and CGI have made a major impact on entertainment industries such as film, television, and videogames, over the last few decades, but now they’re being used prominently throughout other fields too. 

Did you know that some popular celebrities, models, and social media influencers are not even ‘real’? As some of the points below show, they may be entirely digital; a CGI mirage that can be used to market to millions.

This is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but instead it may become the next crucial marketing tool for your business — however large or small — and a way to take your online reach to a whole new level.

1. Virtual Influencers

The world-famous American talent agency, CAA, recently made headlines by signing its first official CGI client. ‘Miquela’ may look like any modern girl on Instagram (she has her own account and millions of followers), but she is entirely CGI. 

This ‘virtual influencer’ has been used in major marketing campaigns for brands like Samsung, Calvin Klein, and YouTube. She has amassed 2.2 million followers, and it is unclear how many of them are even aware she is computer generated…

She is not just a virtual model either. Miquela (also known as Lil Miquela) is also used to raise awareness around social activism issues, like homelessness, LGBTQ+ people, and displaced women.

In this regard, Miquela is used in almost the same way as a real-life model or spokesperson. Some may find it uncanny, but her signing with CAA proves that virtual influencers are on the rise, and can be considered an area with major business potential.

2. Live Animation

Some businesses are going beyond conventional animation to create characters that achieve the maximum reach, engagement, and impact.

Companies such as Digital Puppets, for example, use state of the art software to create animation in real time. This means that an animated character can be used in live Q+As and streaming, where someone speaks, and their character appears to be speaking for them.

Real-time animation has already overtaken conventional animation in terms of its sheer speed. Regular animation can take months to produce even seconds or minutes of content, whereas live animation is rapid. 

Live animation also eliminates the need for lip-syncing, as this is done automatically, side-stepping what is often a major headache in the conventional animation process.

Another benefit of live animation which has proved to be of particular interest to clients, is the ability to use the characters for live presentations and speeches, where the character will be on stage, engaging the audience, while the person controlling them can be hidden away in a quiet room, using their character to hold the audience’s attention far more than they might be able to by themself.

Because of these factors, and more, interest in live animation is soaring.

3. GIFs

Graphics Interchange Formats may sound dry, but GIFs (as they are known) are undeniably fun. Essentially a moving picture that repeats on a continuous loop, GIFs have made their way into popular culture, and into communication.

Many smartphones now include a library of GIFs that can be included in text messages, emails, and chat services. This means that your reply need consist of nothing more than a moving image which captures your feeling; it could be something from a popular film, perhaps, or a television show, or even a quote from a song. GIFs which show facial reactions from hit TV shows like The Office, are especially popular.

Not all GIFs are animations, but many are moving images or pixels, so can be counted as such. They are also being used more regularly on business websites, and for online promotional materials.

Logos and text that would ordinarily be static, can now be made to move in eye-catching ways. This can be remarkable useful for drawing the reader’s eye to important product details, offers, or unique selling points.

Whether it’s a few moving pixels, a CGI masterpiece, or a compelling real-time animated character conducting a live Q&A, the use of animation for business is on the rise. 

Companies in a wide range of industries are exploring this new avenue of marketing and trying ‘character building’ activities of their own.

Perhaps you should consider joining them?

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