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Marks & Spencer launches first virtual influencer called Mira

Tom Bottomley
27 October 2022

Marks & Spencer has become the first UK high street retailer to introduce a virtual influencer, called Mira, with an Instagram account.

Launched today, Mira is an acronym for ‘Marks & Spencer, influencer, reality, augmented’ and the digital character has been developed using a combination of photography, cutting-edge CGI and computer vision.

A back story has also been created for Mira. She is 32 and works at the M&S Support Centre as a Digital Designer. Her style is described as “chic and classic with the occasional bold print thrown in for good measure”. She also “loves discovering new trends”, and customers can shop her top picks for AW22, including a red velvet suit.

The new virtual influencer is part of ‘M&S Insiders’, which launched in 2018, and is made up of M&S colleagues – from store assistants and stylists to buyers and designers – who share style inspiration and product finds with their followers.

There are now 13 ‘Insiders’, and according to the retailer they often produce some of M&S’ best performing social content, on average returning 30% higher engagement than external influencer programmes.

Mira will join the ‘Insiders’ in showcasing M&S’ latest collections, trends and style tips as, according to M&S, one in four people in the UK say they are influenced by social media to buy clothes.

Through the introduction of a virtual character, M&S will be able to “experiment by responding to trending conversations at pace” and be agile with how and when content is captured.

A statement from the retailer says that creating a virtual influencer also “gives M&S the opportunity to connect with a younger audience and build a community with a demographic that are interested in this new form of technology”.

Anna Braithwaite, M&S Director of Marketing for Clothing & Home, said: “We are excited to welcome Mira – UK retail’s first virtual influencer – to our M&S Insider family. Her introduction is the just latest example of how M&S has become bolder in experimenting with emerging technology and trends to inspire our customers – whether that’s our Live Shopping events or our expert online consultation services such as digital bra fit.

“A virtual influencer means we can be more fleet of foot in live trends/conversations and opens possibilities in both the physical and virtual world in the future. I can’t wait to hear customer feedback and see where we take Mira next.”

Mira was created in collaboration with creative tech agency, Happy Finish. While Mira is a virtual character, her content will play out in the real world and will be managed by M&S’ in-house team.

Jeremy Yates, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Happy Finish, said: “It’s brilliant to see our latest project with M&S launch today. Marks & Spencer are real leaders when it comes to strategic use of cutting-edge technology to engage existing and new audiences.

“A big part of our work for M&S focuses on helping the brand unlock new ways to bring its product ranges to life and enrich customer experience. Creating Mira to complement the existing M&S Insiders team is set to do both. We look forward to many more innovative projects with the amazing team at M&S.”

In addition to Mira, four other Insiders are set to join the programme. They include a menswear stylist and, for the first time, two Insiders who will focus on engaging their audiences on M&S’ kidswear offering. There is also an Insider focused on beauty, as the retailer focuses on evolving the category through the introduction of third-party brands, including Clinique and Benefit Cosmetics, and developing its own-brand products, including Apothecary, which has grown to a £20m brand in just two years.

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