At this point, we all know about influencers. Whether you follow them religiously or think they’re total jokes, it’s no longer a novel idea that fashion bloggers and generic hot people are making a living off of Instagram. At this point, the influencer market is honestly pretty saturated, because we can only have so many people getting paid to shill their FabFitFun boxes. So if there isn’t room for any more actual influencers, where do we go next? Why not make fake influencers? Apparently someone already thought of this, because there are actually a surprising number of CGI influencers. Yup, it’s an actual thing. Who are these “people,” and just like, why? Let’s unpack.
In this bizarre corner of the Instagram community, the queen of the CGI influencers is undoubtedly Lil Miquela. Miquela is based in LA (just go with it—it’s easier not to ask questions), and has been on Instagram since 2016. I don’t know if she was officially the first of her kind, but she definitely got in the game early. She’s easily recognizable by her freckles, Princess Leia hairstyle, and the fact that she’s um…not real. Miquela has 1.6 million followers on Insta, which is probably a sign that we should all just give up now.
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Not even going to try to spout some fake body positivity influencer BS bc I’m skinny and ethnically ambiguous sooo it’s not like this thirst trap is groundbreaking but enjoy these lil robot tiddies ?? Also I’m shooting something so special today but I can’t say what it's for yet ~ head to my story for clues ??
Miquela may be popular on Instagram, but she also works hard. She has half a dozen singles on Spotify, which are actually complete bops, and she also is involved with a clothing company called Club 404. For someone who literally doesn’t exist, she stays busy.
If you’re still confused about why the f*ck this is even a thing and how it happened, it’s understandable. At first, no one knew who was behind Miquela, and initially people weren’t actually sure if she was real and just heavily edited her photos, or if she was a bot. Now we know that Miquela is run by an LA-based startup called Brud. The company was founded by Trevor McFedries, and has now raised millions of dollars in capital from investors. Brud has carefully cultivated a world of these CGI influencers and personalities to get millions of people watching.
Last year, Miquela’s Instagram was apparently hacked by another CGI persona named Bermuda, and McFedries initially blamed the incident on “some Redditor idiot,” but it turned out that he was just playing into an elaborate scheme. Bermuda is another Brud creation, and they faked a “hack” on Miquela’s page to generate media coverage. It worked. At the time, one Brud investor acknowledged that the company was “using conflict to introduce new characters…same as the Kardashians always have.” This might sound stupid at first, but it’s also a TV show I would definitely watch.
After the “hack,” Miquela and Bermuda are now friends, and they’re no longer alone in their CGI version of Los Angeles. Brud has also introduced another character named Blawko, and both he and Bermuda have over 100,000 followers now.
I don’t know what Brud’s end-game is, but I have a feeling with millions of dollars from Silicon Valley investment funds, they’re planning something bigger than a bunch of imaginary people wearing trendy sunglasses on Instagram. First Miquela, then world domination? Honestly, I’m ready for our society to be run by CGI influencers, who even cares anymore?
While Brud is definitely the most dominant force in the world of CGI influencers, they’re not the only ones in the game. Knox Frost, who is a 19-year-old living in Atlanta (again, bear with me), is another CGI personality who’s cultivated a following of over 600,000 people since launching his account earlier this year. Honestly, I’m concerned for my personal well-being, because Knox is kind of hot. Brb, deleting all social media and going to live on a desert island.
Knox’s CGI is a little less realistic than the Brud crew, and his background is also more mysterious. No company has taken ownership of Knox Frost like with Miquela, so we still don’t know who’s behind his page. There’s also this hilarious Reddit thread of someone asking if he’s a real person, to which someone responded that he looks like a character from an NBA video game. Honestly, true.
Knox’s captions are also a lot to get into, as a lot of them are lengthy, brooding messages about life. He also has an email newsletter for updates about his “life”, which I haven’t signed up for because I don’t need to get any more emails that I’m just going to delete without opening.
I mean, that caption is honestly a nightmare. Less is more, and Knox Frost is doing THE MOST. To be honest, Miquela and Co. are much more my style than Knox, but I respect whatever hustle has gotten him to 600k followers.
So I guess now you probably understand more about what CGI influencers are, but I’ll be honest, I’m still a little lost when it comes to the why. With a major account like Miquela, the creators have obviously been able to profit off of side projects like the music and the clothing company, but it’s a lot less clear what the goals behind someone like Knox Frost are. In most cases, the people who run these accounts are probably just trying to build up more of a following before pivoting to something that is going to rake in the cash.
No matter how stupid you think CGI influencers are (and, admittedly, they are pretty stupid), they’re probably not going anywhere. Anytime one person is able to build a huge following and profit off of something, you know lots of other people are going to hop on the bandwagon. Granted, to run a CGI influencer’s page, you have to have someone who knows how to do CGI, so that’s probably why there are still only a handful of these popular accounts. But I’m sure there are at least a few more animators and graphic designers who are going to throw their hats in the ring of CGI influencers sooner or later.
Images: lilmiquela (2), blawko22, knoxfrost / Instagram