Brands Are VInfluencers Now? | 2117


If you think Brand Twitter accounts bantering online is insufferable and weird now, just wait till you see what’s coming next.

Full show notes:


Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded by @thejaymo

Brands Are Influencers Now?

Did anyone else see that Netflix launched a Synthespian last week? 

Last year I posted a longread about Vtubers on my blog that’s quickly closing in on 10k views. (Link in the show notes). So this is the sort of news that’s of interest me. 

Netflix Anime’s Official VTuber and Netflix Anime Ambassador is called N-ko Mei Kurono. A “sheep-human lifeform born in California”

Rob Pereyda – Head of Anime, Editorial & Publishing at Netflix wrote in the press release:

My team and I asked ourselves, how could we personally and directly be a part of this anime fan community? Enter N-ko (pronounced e-nu-ko) Mei Kurono, our very own VTuber who makes her debut today! Living on Netflix Anime YouTube, N-ko is our official Netflix Anime Ambassador. N-ko will connect with fans around the world by hosting her very own weekly show, The N-ko Show.

Meet Netflix’s First-Ever Anime Ambassador: VTuber N-ko Mei Kurono

And went on to say in the industry news:

“What makes N-ko particularly exciting is that she is voiced and performed by one of my stunning colleagues at Netflix, … who also happens to live and breathe anime just like me! Through N-ko, our team is excited to join the exciting anime conversations already happening online and to be able to share all the great anime Netflix has ahead. Please join me in welcoming N-ko to the anime world!”

Netflix Debuts ‘Netflix Anime Ambassador’ VTuber N-Ko, the Sheep-Human Lifeform

Netflix commissioned some serious talent to create N-Ko: Dead or Alive 6 concept designer Fubuki is credited as her “Mother”. And influential 3D modeller and rigger Tumidango is credited as N-Ko’s “Father”.

So why is this important news? Well this episode is an excuse to tie together some thoughts I’ve yet to post about on my blog. So take a deep breath, or a bong rip and bear with me whilst I list some emerging trends.

First Trend: Brands are acting more like people online

Brands are acting more like people online, and people are acting more like brands. 

This is for better or worse of course, but it’s a thing that’s happening. Sometimes called β€œHuman Era Brand Behaviour”. You know it when you see it. A recent example is the banter between UK supermarket chains on social media about M&S’s lawsuit against Aldi over there Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake.  

Let me repeat that one more time as it’s a 2021 kind of sentence. β€œThe banter between UK supermarket chains on social media about M&S’s lawsuit against Aldi over their Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake.β€œ 

US Fast Food chain Wendy’s is known as a pioneer of Human Era branding. But I’d also add The Museum of English Rural Life and Sotheran’s of London as other leading examples.

The Second Trend: Headless Brands

β€œHeadless brands” is a term coined by my colleagues over at other.internet to describe community-driven brand dynamics of projects which have no centralized managerial body. Bitcoin is a headless brand for example, so is Wall Street Bets.

Headless brands mark the end of centralized, bureaucratic value creation. And point toward an era of decentralised, permissionless networks of value creation.

My own thoughts on Permissive IPs spawn from the Headless brands concept.

Third Trend: Virtual Influencers.

Media folks are still fretting about the β€˜reality’ of virtual influences like Bruds’ Lil Miquela. But ultimately, the audience doesn’t care. They want compelling narratives and content from entities they follow online. It doesn’t matter if they are an independent Youtuber, or a team of people puppeting an avatar in an unreal or a brand.

I should add that Realtime V-Tubers are huge. In November of 2020 65% of top 50 YouTubers by Superchat Revenue went to Vtubers. With the top 4 VTubers making $475k alone.

Fourth Trend: DAOS and NFTs

I can hear your eyes rolling from here. But the reality is Non Fungible Token primitives  are going to be really mundane real soon. They are going to be in everything. Every virtual gun, every piece of clothing, every item in a virtual world is going to be an NFT.

Limited hype beast drop culture is coming to a Call of Duty near you.

More importantly is the development of DAOs. First mentioned on this podcast back in 2019 for those with good memories. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are a response to the question of online global coordination and patchwork governance. I personally feel that DAO is more useful as a flag for people interested in the future of institutional mechanics to rally around than a type of software.

So why is all this important? 

Well back in Episode 20-06 I said that β€œbeing in charge of a brand’s twitter account is … like a mech pilot climbing a ladder into a cultural Gundam”. Social media managers of brand Twitter accounts are puppeteers. 

And the person puppeteering N-ko is in an interesting position. By launching N-ko Netflix has materialised itself into a virtual person.

They can if they want: interact with humans on a livestream. Speak with or interview anime characters. They can buy, wear or sell virtual items and more. Why hire an influencer to influence when you can create your own? 

Not only will brand avatars be competing for our attention, but so will co-piloted headless brand community avatars. Lil Miquela is becoming a DAO, and Vtubers will soon be making real time tele-novellas. N-ko could even make a guest appearance. 

If you think brands twitter accounts bantering online is insufferable and weird, just wait till you see what’s coming next.

The script above is the original script. It may differ from what ended up in the audio due to time constraints and editing.

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4 responses to “Brands Are VInfluencers Now? | 2117”

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