OK, I might run TechRadar but that doesn't mean I can get away with writing whatever I want, whenever I want - but there's something weird happening with LG's virtual influencer and I just need to talk about it.
A quick overview: in mid-2020, LG brought Reah Keem, a virtual influencer, 'to life' on Instagram (opens in new tab), and used her to present part of its CES 2021 conference. It was a big deal... mostly because nobody knew why LG was doing this.
Was it to create a 'physical' embodiment of the faceless voice assistants? Was it to take a slice of the $10m pie that some virtual influencers are raking in? Was it just an over-exuberant marketing machine?
My interest was piqued at CES 2022, where LG announced that Reah Keem - who, lest we forget, is a DJ and songwriter with her own SoundCloud and everything despite not actually having a heartbeat - will release her first album.
I wrote about her album deal 'news' back then, and even as I was writing it felt like a poor use of time - does anybody care that LG is creating a virtual influencer?
Sure, there is a trend here - what about Shudu Gram (opens in new tab), originally 'launched' as real but turning out to be synthetic... and yet still, after that, appeared in Korean Vogue?
Or, and this is the big one, Miquela, AKA LilMiquela (opens in new tab), who has amassed 3,100,000 followers and can reportedly charge $8,000 for a single Insta post - and is on course to rack up $10,000,000 in a year for her 'makers', Los Angeles-based startup Brud (opens in new tab).
Virtual influencers are a thing now - which really messes with your head in terms of the definition of what an influencer actually is.
If Reah does become the face of a forthcoming LG voice assistant (as hinted at in LG's OmniPod concept) then making her famous, getting an Instagram and SoundCloud (opens in new tab) following does make sense, I suppose... but her appearance in said concept was as a cartoon version of her. I don't know what's happening.
Get on with it
Right, I've not even got to the weird bit yet: LG has been erasing elements of Reah Keem's social media, as if trying to cover up her saying something that would be later used against her.
Clearly that's not the case - I looked through all her Insta posts last week (then realized, again, that I was supposed to be doing 'proper work') and what I found was a weird thread of 'finding her voice', which culminated in her posting both a wonderful #pissedatdevelopers hashtag when they hadn't 'found her voice' and also the one where she unveils her new tones and invites comments.
But now, everything posted after August 2020 has been deleted. Suspicious.
Why is LG doing this? Could it be that the new album deal she's inked with Mystic Story has forced LG to redact the previous voice she 'found'?
“Singing about universal themes such as love, acceptance, and unity is what I want to focus on,” said Reah. Wait, no... wrote someone in marketing and then pretended that it was a 3D model that said it.
“In the near future, I’d love to work with various artists in fashion and visual arts to broaden the style of content for my fans to enjoy. The opportunities as a virtual artist are endless.”
I've contacted LG to find out why this might be happening. I have to stop this now - I have actual other work to do beyond satisfying my curiosity about a bunch of pixels and whether she might have become sentient enough to delete her own Insta posts.