Engelhard Arzneimittel: Virtual influencer “Malive” activates social media community

Virtual influencers are becoming increasingly present in social media – including in pharma. Engelhard Arzneimittel and the agency construktiv have created an AI-generated influencer who does influencer marketing for a wound gel on Instagram.

In the past year, topics such as AI and the metaverse have really taken off. This has been accompanied by the incipient establishment of virtual influencers. They have already arrived in the fashion and consumer goods market and have some exciting features that set them apart from their human counterparts.

Virtual influencers have many advantages

These include, for example, the ability to adapt to the brand – virtual influencers can change their look, hair, etc. or develop new interests at any time.

They have great potential for storytelling, as exciting stories can be developed together with brands. What’s more, virtual influencers are always available. They don’t fall ill or are unable to work for personal reasons and can travel to any location and even at any time. Another important advantage: virtual influencers are much less at risk of scandals because their behavior can be controlled.

Virtual influencers are still rare in pharmaceutical marketing, but the industry is observing the trend with increased attention. One company that has taken the first steps in virtual influencer marketing is Engelhard Arzneimittel. Together with the agency construktiv GmbH, one was used as part of a social media activation for the Tyrosur CareExpert wound gel. The influencer @virtual.malive carried out a “fairytale” Instagram collaboration with a competition. “The collab post appeared both on the profile of the virtual influencer Malive and in Tyrosur’s feed. The post generated over 7,000 likes,” says Jaisha Laduch, Head of Influencer Marketing & Social Media Strategy at construktiv.

In addition to the competition post, there was also an Instagram reel with a video animation showing the wound gel in use. “This reel also received over 75,000 views,” reports Jaisha Laduch. Click here for the reel on Instagram. The format was also implemented as a collaboration and is an extension of the story that was already shown in the feed.


Be aware of the special features of the pharmaceutical industry

However, if you want to work with virtual influencers in the pharmaceutical industry, you need to be aware of certain special features. Compared to other industries, strict legal regulations and ethical standards are particularly pronounced in the pharmaceutical industry. Advertising for medicines and healthcare products requires a high level of accuracy and transparency to ensure consumer safety. “An ethical approach is therefore also particularly relevant for the realization of a campaign with a virtual influencer,” concludes the communications expert and continues: “From our point of view, it is particularly important that it is transparently disclosed that Malive is a fictional character. We also managed to do this by traveling into a fictional dream world.”

Why do virtual influencers work even though followers know that they are not real people? “When it comes to health or medical products, users often have a particularly strong need for information and exchange. Virtual influencers, some of whom are managed by entire teams or whose answers are generated by an AI, can also serve this need well if appropriate training by experts or coordination with experts can be guaranteed,” explains Jaisha Laduch.

However, it is also important that virtual influencers cannot share a real, personal medical history, says Jaisha Laduch. As a result, it may be more difficult for them in the pharmaceutical sector to encourage patients to seek a cure and gain their trust. “But what could be a weakness at first glance, we interpret as a strength, because the virtual influencer can also empathize very well with many topics or even illnesses or injuries, deal with them intensively and use her own reach to draw attention to a topic. The important thing here is transparent communication with the community and an exchange with the experts – then nothing stands in the way of successful implementation.”

The communications expert draws a positive balance with regard to the campaign: “We rate the campaign as absolutely positive. The above-mentioned performance values of the campaign certainly speak for themselves. The positive sentiment of the communities and the consistently positive response on LinkedIn, where we reported on the collaboration, also led to a positive (B2B) image effect for construktiv GmbH.”

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