Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The VTuber – The ‘Ideal’ Corporate Influencer

You could look like anyone and brand yourself anything, and perhaps, that is the essence of being a VTuber. The term, generally understood to mean “virtual YouTuber” in such circles, is functionally a content creator who can be on any platform they choose, except that they use an avatar instead of their own face. This allows them greater freedom as they can design a marketable look, or portray themselves as a singular potato if they so desire.

Whatever they look like, they pretty much can do anything a ‘traditional’ influencer is capable of, except having a physical body; something possible to ‘circumvent’ if they dress as their avatar. However, most tend to keep their off-screen selves disparate from their VTuber avatars, which you can reasonably assume is akin to keeping the illusion intact. Think of it as a parasocial relationship with a favourite celebrity figure.

Their earning capacity and reach could certainly rival some showbiz stars. Playboard’s rankings of top VTubers has Hololive’s Hakui Koyori (who currently has 1.07mil subscribers) earn RM2.67mil from YouTube Super Chats – basically paying to get your comment highlighted amongst other viewers during a livestream – in 2023, with six of the top ten of the year being fellow Hololive members. As members of an established brand – Hololive – they’re what you can dub ‘corporate’ VTubers.

For more direct branding, Looop, a renewable energy company in Japan, had VTubers – now inactive – that promoted clean energy via solar power alongside their ‘typical’ gaming activities. There’s also AirAsia with their Project Kavvaii arm that aims to promote Southeast Asian talents, so it’s not necessarily needing their talents – as they’re called – to always be the primary ambassadors for the companies they work for.

The appeal is there for those who prefer idealised people over flesh and blood, and there’s always money and fame to be had if you manage to get a breakthrough.

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