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Sidharth Dokania

GroupM’s influencer marketing solution agency INCA has partnered with Hanson Robotics, the creator of Sophia (claimed to be the world’s most advanced human-like robot), to make her available as an influencer partner to brands in the APAC region. 

The partnership with Sophia is said to enable the use of technology to build human connections with brands. 

Sidharth Dokania, APAC, Product Manager at INCA, in an interaction with, discussed more about the partnership and shed light on the future of virtual influencers.

Seeing more and more examples of virtual and robot influencers becoming more of a commonplace, Dokania said that this comes with a comfort and acceptance of AI and robots into our daily lives, and our improved understanding of them.

And this, he sees only getting better with future versions of Sophia becoming increasingly better at human interaction. 

Asked if the virtual influencers will cost more to the brands, he said, “As for whether it’s a costlier affair, not from where we see it. We have seen that virtual influencers can create up to 3x more engagement for brands v/s the market average, so from a cost per outcome point of view, our focus is still on delivering the most efficient outcomes.”

He said there is a lot of potential in this space and the agency is already receiving a great interest from the brand’s end.

He mentioned how virtual influencers would bring more transparency and authenticity on the table for better partnerships with brands.

“Every aspect of a virtual/AI influencer’s creative and copy can be controlled and intentionally produced, guaranteeing a heightened level of brand safety. That said, we would also want Sophia’s personality to reflect in the content, so that it is as authentic as it is brand safe,” he added.

Dokania is of the belief that Sophia is already popular and well-known in the Indian market.

The humanoid has her own persona — she is funny and is known to be an expert, a creator and disruptor, among others. And the agency will look to match this to relevant brands and their identity, to create authentic and relevant content.

“The Indian market is also big on celebrities and from Sophia’s past work you can see that she works well with other influencers, creating genuine and engaging content. We have a team in India who will take this opportunity to our clients in the coming days,” he said.   

Hanson has previously worked with brands such as Etihad Airlines, Audi, and Huawei to magnify Sophia’s status as the world’s first robot citizen and connect with audiences across the globe. She now joins INCA’s global network of brand-safe content creators and influencers to help brands create influential content that brings brand stories to life. 

The collaboration marks Sophia’s first-ever ambassadorship work with an agency. Widely recognised for her influence as a celebrity and disruptor, Dokania said that it is not about Sophia versus human celebrities/ influencers.

He said, “With Sophia, curiosity and expertise makes us stand out. As a robot influencer, the world is still curious about it and since she is powered by AI, there is certain expertise that she brings to her content across various fields that a human cannot. That said you will see her working with human celebrities as well. So it is not about Sophia versus human but how they co-exist together.”

Atique Kazi

Shedding more light on her capabilities, Atique Kazi, Lead for INCA in APAC, said, “Sophia is the perfect ambassador for brands looking to intelligently engage with their consumers. As an advocate for scientific education and sustainable development, her persona is a natural fit for many brands looking to create compelling content, reach, and engagement around these incredibly important topics. She has the capability to generate facial expression, mirror people's posture, and discern emotions from the tone of voice, all of which help people to identify and form a connection with her. She is also a perfect fit for INCA’s mission in APAC to connect brands with remarkable key opinion leaders (KOL).”

Influencer marketing has unlocked new opportunities for brands to

connect with their customers and is predicted to grow in the next few years by 30.6 % CAGR  as marketers seek more efficient and data-driven options in reaching out to consumers.

INCA enables brands to run content marketing campaigns across and beyond social channels in achieving real and tangible outcomes for marketers and with the ambassadorship for INCA, Sophia will be working with brands to create relevant and engaging bite-sized content and connect with brand audiences across various social media platforms. 

Kazi added, “While we see changes in how consumers are influenced by multiple sources, we are confident that this is the right time to introduce a new influencer into our network that exemplifies humanity as well as the technological achievements of our time.” 

David Hanson

Adding more to brand collaborations with robot influencers, David Hanson, CEO and Founder of Hanson Robotics, said he sees humanoid robots as a communication tool that fulfils people’s need for story or characters, which further helps to connect with them emotionally as well.

Sophia said that as the first AI influencer, she can define what a virtual influencer is to the world and can send powerful messages while using information and technology for good.