PUMA brings to life virtual influencer in SEA marketing push

The use of virtual influencers are increasing in prominence around the world. The latest brand to tap on this new trend is PUMA Southeast Asia. To promote its Future Rider sneakers, PUMA brought onboard virtual influencer Maya as one of its Southeast Asia brand ambassadors. Of course, they will still have their other human influencers, but Maya will aid in updating her collaborations with the sportswear brand and also group selfies with the team.

Maya who describes herself as"Your average not so average Southeast Asian Virtual Girl", is part of the new trend of brands working with AI influencers. Last year, skincare giant SK-II also partnered up with AI company Soul Machines to create its first autonomously animated digital influencer, YUMI, while KFC also worked with Wieden + Kennedy to unveil its own version of an digital influencer in the image of Colonel Sanders. In Southeast Asia, AirAsia has also created its own influencer called Miss AVA who appears on its Instagram page in travel related content.

(Read more: The rise of the AI influencer: Are they simply easier to work with?)

But while the trend of AI influencers seems to be increasingly on the rise, PUMA hasn't completely put a pin on working with real life (living breathing) influencers either. It recently tapped on Ah Boys to Men star and Singaporean rapper Tosh Zhang, Malaysian singer Ismail Izzani and Indonesian actor Adipati Dolken alongside Maya as ambassadors for its brand in Southeast Asia. The sportswear brand launched a campaign video on YouTube featuring all four artists, who will embark on an adventure as virtual figures to unlock the Future Rider studios. UM Studios in Malaysia was involved in the campaign. 

Take a look at the campaign:

Marketing has reached out to PUMA and UM Studios for additional information.

PUMA has been increasingly amping up its campaigns and engagement in Singapore. Shortly after launching an online store and two new physical stores in Jewel Changi Airport and ION Orchard as part of its expansion plans, PUMA launched a campaign transforming each Instagram user into "PUMAN". Using the platform's new customised AR face filter feature, the #PUMANSOFSG campaign was also a tongue-in-cheek reference from the Humans of New York movement. 

The sportswear brand also tapped on a pool of influencers, including actors, comedians, a national footballer and a KPOP dancer, to create customised AR face filters. Fans were encouraged to submit Instagram stories with these PUMAN filters and the campaign hashtag to get a discount off PUMA's latest products at its physical retail stores. The social media campaign was done to drive footfall to PUMA’s 10 flagship stores across Singapore.