Virtual humans are fast sweeping South Korea’s entertainment industry, and one popular 3D model is set to earn a staggering amount of money this year.
Rozy first hit the scene back in August 2020. Developed by Sidus Studio X, Rozy may look like a real 22-year-old girl, but she’s actually South Korea’s first virtual influencer.
Over the past year, she’s accumulated over 100,000 followers on Instagram. But, most notably, she’s also picked up a number of high-profile brand deals.
In the past, top endorsement deals typically went to popular K-Pop idols and K-Drama actors. But now, virtual influencers like Rozy are proving a fast-rising choice for future-forward brands. Most notably, she was selected as the model for Shinhan Life Insurance earlier this year.
Each week, she also snaps several sponsored Instagram posts for brands like Calvin Klein, Maison Margiela, and Hera Beauty. In total, Rozy already worked on over 100 sponsorships since her creation.
According to Baek Seung Yeop, the CEO of Sidus Studio X, there are several reasons why brands are turning to virtual influencers. For one, these 3D models can’t get into any scandals that could jeopardize the brand. This year alone, numerous idols and actors have been dropped from endorsement deals after becoming embroiled in controversy.
On top of this, virtual humans can be anywhere at any time (including in multiple places at the same time), and they never age. This gives brands far more freedom than they’d ordinarily have with human models.
Of course, this all means that the advertising income that would normally go to human entertainers in South Korea is slowly trickling into virtual human studios instead—and Rozy in particular is making a staggering amount of money. This year alone, she’s predicted to earn a whopping $850,000 USD or more.
Considering some stars never make a single cent as an idol, it should come as no surprise that this figure is a lot more than many singers from smaller companies have earned during their entire careers. Even still, Rozy is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, Baek Seung Yeop says there are plans to release a voice for Rozy and cast her in movies, K-Dramas, and other entertainment shows.
With virtual humans set to earn more and more opportunities that would normally go to idols, some fans are hesitant to warm to the idea of these 3D stars. That said, more and more entertainment companies are showing an interest in developing them. Last year, SM Entertainment debuted aespa—a girl group where each of the four members has a virtual, AI-powered counterpart.
Kakao Entertainment and Netmarble, meanwhile, recently partnered to create their own rumored four-member AI girl group.