There was a particularly cute moment when Aozora Kurumi debuted on Saturday night (May 8), she was crowdsourcing for a moniker of her fans, and her viewers suggested the witty name of "Kurumates".
"Kurumates" is of course a portmanteau of her's name and "mates", but it is also a pun that sounds like "crewmates".
Even as Kurumi is now seeking to make her own name as a Vtuber, she still cannot escape the fact that her whole existence owes itself to her management agency Project Kavvaii's parent company AirAsia Group Bhd.
Originally a low-cost carrier based in Southeast Asia, the group has since dipped its toes in many online businesses, especially as the travel and hospitality industry receives a major hit amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Its founder Tony Fernandes – who commented on Kurumi's debut stream to say he is proud of her – has never been shy about his ambition to make the AirAsia app a "super-app" to rival Grab, GoJek and WeChat.
Previously offering the likes of flight and hotel options, the app now offers financial services such as personal loans and zakat payment, food and groceries delivery, and even beauty products.
Last month (April 2021), Fernandes was even quoted saying he wants to be the "best delivery guy in town", with plans for AirAsia to enter the ride-hailing market as well.
But this month, AirAsia through its subsidiary Project Kavvaii is setting its sights on the Vtuber scene of virtual YouTubers, who can be described as talents who present themselves as anime-inspired characters, usually live-streaming while playing video games, singing, or just interacting with viewers.
In its media statement last Wednesday (May 5), its Chief Brand Officer Rudy Khaw admitted that the move is part of an effort for the brand to "stay relevant".
"As a digital company, the constant change in the way people consume online content drives us to explore cross-industry innovations with Project Kavvaii to stay relevant and ahead of trends," Khaw said.
But with this foray comes the scepticism: can the firms "brandtuber" approach lift off, or will it run itself to the ground soon? And what was the rationale behind this move?
We will discuss this more after the jump, for subscribers only. 👇