PARIS — In a sign of the growing pull of the metaverse, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has created a virtual ambassador to present its brand innovations at the next edition of the Viva Technology conference, scheduled to run from June 15 to 18 in Paris.
The female avatar, which has gray-blue eyes and a wavy brown bob with white streaks at the front, appeared in the luxury conglomerate’s call for applications from start-ups for the sixth edition of its LVMH Innovation Award, which received a record of more than 950 entries this year, according to a spokesman for the group.
The virtual character, which has yet to be named, will deliver statements about innovation, tech and digital-related topics for LVMH and its 75 brands during VivaTech, which is expecting more than 1,500 exhibitors for this hybrid edition, which will include a physical event at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center.
Although LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault is officially taking a cautious approach to the metaverse, the world’s biggest luxury group has been exploring the possibilities of the digital environment and its adjacent innovations.
Last year, it partnered with Prada Group and Compagnie Financière Richemont in the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which promotes the use of a single blockchain solution open to all luxury brands worldwide.
And LVMH is no stranger to working with virtual characters. Louis Vuitton, the group’s star brand, enlisted the Final Fantasy character Lightning for its spring 2016 ads, and in 2019, it joined forces with Riot Games, the maker of the popular multiplayer online video game “League of Legends,” creating champion skins for players.
However, LVMH has lacked a high-profile spokesperson for digital innovation since the departure of its chief digital officer Ian Rogers in 2020. His responsibilities are now shared by several executives: chief information officer Franck Le Moal, who is in charge of IT projects like Aura, and chief omnichannel officer Michael David, whose role focuses on usage.
In January, the group appointed former Sephora executive Nelly Mensah as vice president of digital innovation — head of crypto and metaverse. She is expected to divide her time between New York City and Paris as she helps brands to explore the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality.
Candidates for the LVMH Innovation Award are also being asked to showcase their solutions for 3D/virtual product experience and the metaverse. It’s one of six categories they can compete in, alongside omnichannel and retail; media and brand awareness; operations and manufacturing excellence; employee experience and corporate social responsibility, and sustainability.
Shortlisted start-ups will have a chance to work with LVMH and its brands, and the winners for each category will be honored at an awards ceremony during VivaTech. A special prize will also be given to a start-up for the most compelling data and artificial intelligence solution. One of the start-ups will be named the winner of the 2022 LVMH Innovation Award.