Lil Miquela Gets a Human Experience in the World-Straddling BMW iX2
What might a virtual character want more than anything? Maybe just to "be a real boy," as Pinocchio so poignantly dreamed.
Here's a branded tale in a similar vein. BMW collaborated with virtual influencer Lil Miquela to promote its iX2 electric vehicle that aspires to unite the best digital features with physical sensation. All the usual car porn is here, but the work manages to be about Miquela, who uses the iX2 as a (literal) vehicle for getting closer to the "real" world than she's ever been.
If virtual influencers have become palatable alongside their fleshmeat counterparts, it's partly because they make no secret about not being human. Sometimes, they might even expound on how they relate to their unique realities, a charming variant on the machine sentience convos we're always having about AI.
There are surreal crossovers, where these characters flirt with the membrane dividing pixels and personhood. In 2020, the virtual influencer Imma appeared inside an enclosed Ikea apartment in Harajuku, where she was spotted enjoying banal activities like vacuuming and folding socks. It seems that one pleasure of sharing our world is sharing our chores.
This BMW ad follows that lead, and it's philosophical in a softcore sci-fi way. Here, we have a "bubble boy" story, where Lil Miquela partakes of the tortuous pleasure of exploring our reality without being able to touch it. Her fingers slice through a dragonfly, recomposing the illusion of solidity on the other side. (She sure can clutch a steering wheel, though!)
“Amidst all the web3/metaverse/artificial intelligence push of the past two years, this crafty piece of storytelling is all about real life,” says Patrick Klebba, executive creative director at Media.Monks, which conceived the film. “Now, Lil Miquela reminds us of what we have, and how beautiful it is, and how lucky we are to have it—this is what we want people to feel.”
Directed by Stefanie Soho of BWGTBLD, the clip does a nifty job of positioning the car as a spiritual mediator, or psychopomp, connecting two realities. And it makes another promise: This isn't just a vehicle that straddles the space between. It can, when it matters, cut between them, offering genuine access to the previously untouchable.
Why settle for being the pumpkin if you can play the fairy godmother, too? That's where the brand promise sits, pulpy and inviting.
There's a moment toward the end with Lil Miquela in a club. A man bumps into her and she realizes that she's flesh. The scenario dissolves; suddenly, she's in the car again. Was it real, or just a dream? She touches her palm, speeds off into the wild. She steps out as it begins to rain ... and realizes the drops are making contact with her hand.
That seems to be the answer. It's unclear whether this is permanent, or a just-'til-midnight kind of deal. We suspect her freedom is ultimately tethered to the car.
“The world and the industry are changing rapidly—digitalization and electrification are finding their way, not only in the product but also in marketing," says Stefan Ponikva, VP of BMW brand communication and experience. "These advances are important, and in the future vehicles will continue to move real people through real worlds and in addition through virtual worlds. We have made this bridge-building the core of our BMW iX2 campaign and the result touches hearts."
"Make it real," the ad ends. The campaign's gone live across the EMEA, APAC and the U.S.
Client: The BMW Group
Head of BMW Content Creation and Production: Max Bauer
Customer Journey Campaign Lead BMW: Christina von Jakubowski
Project Lead Film BMW: Daniela Sykes
Project Lead Artwork BMW: Lisa Schmack
Dapper Labs / Lil Miquela:
Creative Director: Jessica Currie
CG Lead: Dhairya Patel
Agency: The Marcom Engine
Account Management: Susanne Schwermer, Nicole Niemann
Executive Creative Director: Patrick Klebba, Christof Deutscher
Creative Director & Project Lead: Mario Zaradic
Art Director: Tomic Lee, Moe Qubia, Junggle Kim
Copywriter: Oliver Schnitzer, Poppy Kilby-Tyre
Project Management: Britta Meisterjahn
Strategy Director: Santiago Ramirez
Executive Producer: Patrick Cahill
Senior Producer (Film): Alexandra Kaesler
Producer (Artwork): Max Huber
Post Producer (Artwork): Vivianne Bonnefond
Post-Production Support (Film): Andrej Loebel
Production Film: BWGTBLD
Executive Producer: Julian Holland
Director: Stefanie Soho
Director of Photography: Oliver Millar
Music: Hugo Dubery and Gustav Karlström
Editing: Nik Kohler
Styling: Harper Slate, Julia Quante
Grading: Mikey Rossiter / Rare Medium New York
Line Producer: Tom Erhardt
Post Producer: Claudia Reissen, Victor de Castillo
Service Production: Bas Films
Post Production: Rohtau London
Executive Creative Director, VFX Supervisor: Jordi Bares
Executive Producer, Head of Production and Sustainability: Josh King
Post Producer: Romilly Endacott
AI Artist: Ahmed Abdelnaby
Senior CG Car Asset, Model and Texturing: Narek Gabazyan
Senior Lighting & FX TD: Mathias Villemont
Lead Nuke & Flame Compositor: Diego Camacho
Lead Flame Compositor: HongRu Chen
Service Production Artwork: Falca
Service Producer: Jack Daniel-Dempsey
Photographer: Chris Noltekuhlmann
Photo Assistant: Florian Brandl
Post Production: ReCom
Post Production Artist: Pepe Alram, Daniel Seiler, Katharina Löffler
Post Production Supervisor: Lars Wittmak