In an effort to “insert [themselves] into the conversation” with Gen Z and Millennial consumers, Gucci becomes the first global advertising partner with Genies Inc., a Los Angeles-based avatar-chat technology start-up powered by artificial intelligence and wishing to personalize communication.
No stranger to fashion futurism, Gucci has employed social media activism, “do it yourself” product customization and both augmented and virtual reality in campaigns — now artificial intelligence-powered avatars are the next digital endeavor, creating a total of 200 assets within the Genies app to dress the digital consumer.
As a background, Genies Inc. has raised $25 million to date through its investors or “tastemakers of industry” including venture capital firms, professional athletes, entrepreneurs and musicians, such as A$AP Rocky and Migos’ Offset.
In an interview with WWD, cofounder and chief executive officer Akash Nigam referred to the Genies avatars as “mini robots” that are “animated in real-time.” Claiming to stand apart from competitor Bitmoji, Genies claims added functionality with its cross-platform communication and multiuser communication — allowing users to interact with up to six friends, and their “idealized digital selves,” at a time.
This AI-powered technology bolsters communication with both sentiment and keyword analysis to define Genies avatar actions. Using AI to read facial expressions, a “sentiment analysis” is conducted and keywords are analyzed to display immersive scenes in real time during a conversation.
And according to Nigam, “[Genies] is the only avatar on the market that can integrate on third parties at this caliber” with usage across communication platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and more.
Genies’ software development kit, or SDK, has been licensed to brands for anywhere between $100,000 to $3 million in recent partnerships, giving brands a means to digitize and personalize fashion through “intelligent and dynamic characters.”
Speaking on the partnership with Gucci, which Nigam described as a “meaningful payment” to obtain the SDK licensing, Gucci will have “exclusivity on luxury [fashion] during the launch period.”
Through the brand partnership, Gucci can adorn Genies’ patent-pending “wheel” in their own signature design, allowing users to pivot through and customize their avatar. Other promoted actions include the access to promoted actions by owning keywords such as “shopping” or “Gucci” — thus increasing product visibility and giving Gucci further namesake for digital natives.
Witnessing the success of computer-generated intelligence stars such as Lil Miquela, framing avatars as ad space is now a mainstreamed idea, and luxury fashion often leads this experimentation. Features such as those found in Genies give potential to purchase clothing within the app — both physically and digitally. With the latter meaning, users can obtain digital asset packs to customize their avatars.
When used intelligibly, artificial intelligence can be a vital interpreter, dissolving language barriers and revealing consumer sentiment. But the brand is the only decider of whether the AI space is worth the plunge.