Meet ‘Gu Yu’ – Virtual Influencer for Balabala in China Via Ogilvy Shanghai

Balabala, a kids clothing brand in China, recently revealed its new official brand ambassador Gu Yu, an influencer created in partnership with Ogilvy Shanghai. Gu Yu marks a “shifting away from the traditional fashion marketing playbook in favor of innovative, tech-infused activations that resonate with the new generation of digital-native parents,” says the brand.

Gu Yu, which translates literally as ‘grain rain’, takes her name from the eponymous Chinese lunar calendar festival on April 20 signaling a rise in temperatures and the arrival of heavy rainfalls essential for good crop growth – a symbolic nod to Balabala’s belief in promoting children’s free growth and self-expression, says the campaign.

Gu Yu was brought to life by Ogilvy Shanghai, which conducted target consumer research and analyzed data sets of children’s faces that were then aggregated into a 3D rendering software to create an initial prototype.

 
 

The creative technology team then used a suite of AI and 3D modeling tools to further refine her facial features including eye shape, hair thickness and skin texture and animate the virtual influencer in various scenarios as she explores her passions.

First introduced to the world on social commerce app Xiaohongshu, Gu Yu doubles up as an independent fashion blogger, connecting with fans through regular short form content that documents her life as an influencer – such as sharing behind the scenes of upcoming promotional videos – and introducing some of the most recent clothing item releases from Balabala alongside real-life child models or in the form of NFT digital collectibles.

 
 

“Bringing Gu Yu to life has been an incredibly exciting creative journey, from the very early research and conceptualization stages where we defined her key traits, facial features and personality all the way to technology implementation and agile social content creation,” said Thomas Zhu, Group Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Shanghai.

“As one of the first virtual influencers for a childrenswear brand created in China, Gu Yu is testament to Balabala’s commitment to digital innovation and positions the brand as a true metaverse pioneer in the kids fashion category. We look forward to seeing her interact with fans over the next few months in novel, exciting ways.”

On eCommerce, Balabala’s launched the new modern silhouettes with the release of a limited-edition “meta dress” NFT piece, which 1000 customers could receive by shopping on the brand’s flagship store or by using their loyalty points.

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