AI: cutting-edge

Wednesday, Jul 15, 2020 08:26

The AI version of Toc Tien. AI is changing brand ambassador concept in Viet Nam. — Photo from Toc Tien Clear Head fanpage

A new and dynamic concept, brand ambassador, in Viet Nam is being transformed by Artificial Intelligence (AI), experts have said.

For years in the country, well-resourced brands have not hesitated to sign billion-dollar contracts with well-suited ambassadors, in the hope of marking their mark on consumers and bringing about tangible gains to sales and brand value.

Celebrities are also becoming more committed to developing their professional image in order to maximise interest from big brands.

However, despite sizable opportunities in this market, this type of communications strategy gives rise to some challenges for brand marketers.

Difficulties selecting brand ambassadors

Identifying the right brand ambassador takes a great deal of time and resources. In an ideal world, a brand ambassador would be someone who has both an outward appearance and demeanour that embodies the brand’s image and values, and brings with them a group of followers that represent the company’s target customers.

Moreover, the desired brand ambassador would ideally promote a positive influence on their social community. A-list stars can also be quite selective when it comes to selecting the brands they wish to represent, especially when such partnerships involve long-term and exclusive commitments, which may require them to turn down alternative “part-time” collaboration opportunities.

While composing a shortlist of candidates can already be challenging enough, negotiating the terms of brand ambassador partnerships can present even more difficulties.

The value of a brand ambassador contract can be worth anywhere from billions to tens of billions in Vietnamese dong. At a time when brands are under pressure to optimise every last investment dollar, ROI (Return On Investment) for these contracts can be extremely difficult to calculate and justify.

These are just some of the many challenges that come with developing brand ambassador partnerships, not to mention additional difficulties in arranging shoots, interviews, events and other behind-the-scene tasks, all in the context of depending on the inherently busy schedules of celebrities.

As for “scandals”, it is often impossible for brands to foresee the risks associated with the behind-the-scenes lives of their ambassadors nor the potential for these incidents to go viral. Some scandals have been known to completely tarnish the reputation of the artists involved. As an inevitable consequence, this can also cause significant damage to the image of the brand they are partnering with, or in the worst-case scenarios, slow a brand’s business to a halt.

Rising era of “virtual” brand ambassadors

In this time of digital revolution, data and technology have gradually been re-defining customer experience and AI has completely transformed Viet Nam’s brand ambassador market.

The newly launched Toc Tien AI represents a milestone in AI application for commercial communication strategy in Viet Nam.

Toc Tien AI is a digitalised version of the famous Vietnamese singer Toc Tien, whose outward appearance was created by 3D technology and whose mind is developed and coded via Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Developer T&A Ogilvy has applied machine learning and deep learning to prompt the “virtual” Toc Tien to fluently deliver a command of language similar to the “The Doomsday” singer, exercise a “wicked” communication ability, and even self-generate trendy and Toc Tien-authentic content.

Across the world, the concept of the virtual celebrity has already been realised. Imma, a virtual fashion icon that shook the media world to its core in 2019, is a character whose existence has been constructed entirely on the computer. With her unmistakable pink hair and trend-leading fashion style, Imma currently has a bank of Instagram followers that spans more than tens of thousands, a celebrity as “real” as any other famous influencers in Japan.

Lil Miquela, a virtual Brazil-American singer “born” in 2017, has also made a name for herself with more than 500,000 followers on Instagram and a chart-topping song that rose to eighth place on Spotify in August 2017.

The AI version of Toc Tien in Viet Nam is unlike any other worldwide. The AI sets a precedent of a virtual celebrity modelled on a real-life star. This means all input data used for the robot’s learning are all derived from actual data, from real-life language use to behaviour on social media.

In addition, many brilliant features of the virtual star still remain untapped, including the potential of persistent learning and advancement over time to deliver fresh and innovative images, and the ability to apply new and flexible creative ideas that serve the ever-evolving communication purposes of brands.

The virtual Toc Tien already has her own Facebook account at Toc Tien Clear Head, which is directly linked with the real Toc Tien account. She can add friends and have a quick, interactive chat that lasts a few minutes with users who share content with the hashtag #NongQuaDi (#SoHotIDie).

With a striking appearance and almost identical likeness to the real Toc Tien singer, the AI-driven Toc Tien can also engage with users on their own personal pages about the trendiest topics related to brand communication, ensuring maximum personalised brand experiences.

T&A Ogilvy General Director Nguyen Dieu Cam strongly believes that this solution can meet the increasingly complex communications and commerce requirements of businesses.

She added: “Using a virtualised celebrity adapted from a real person can help realise any communication concept and idea – from simple snack ads to other more complicated and elaborated promotional formats such as music video production and concert organization. This marketing solution can also be more cost-effective and can alleviate some of the time and scheduling complications of engaging real-life celebrities in person. Brands can also exercise the nearest full control over the creative outcome, to ensure alignment with brand direction and diminish the brand’s image risks. These are some of the exceptional advantages that become possible through the introduction of virtualised celebrities."

“Besides cost efficiency and communication effectiveness, virtual celebrities have the potential for customisable interaction ability in terms of language, characteristics and appearance. Together with the appeal of the real personas, these interactions can be promoted anytime, anywhere, and to any scale, which can also help leverage customer experience, creating personalisation and deeper connections with public emotion.”

Incorporating such vibrant and cutting-edge AI applications in a traditional field like that of brand ambassador partnerships can amplify product visibility. This in turn strengthens connectivity with users, enhances consumer satisfaction while experiencing products, and allows brands to accurately identify their target audience as well as other value-added services that customers are seeking.

In the near future, we are likely to see even more innovative technologies, such as emotion detection technology in which AI technology responds to users' facial expressions or behaviour to direct consumers to suitable categories. With the support of e-commerce solutions, virtual ambassadors are guaranteed to have a huge potential of becoming a valuable arm in the digitalised commerce revolution of businesses. — VNS

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