AI turns a children’s book heroine into a virtual influencer

AI turns a children’s book heroine into a virtual influencer

Studies show that parents need a helping hand in explaining energy related matters to their kids. Helen, one of the biggest energy companies in Finland, released a children’s book and gamified content that offer novel ways to teach the energy transition. To spread the story online, the book’s protagonist was turned into a virtual influencer using generative AI.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a story of a little girl who helps lost energy Posi and Neg find their way back to the electricity network. Along the way they – and you – learn about different energy sources, the climate crisis and about the different ways in which you can save energy at home. The book was written by Leandro Righini and Mick Scheinin. Its illustrations were created by Eveliina Saarentaus, a student at Aalto University.

Energy matters are a hot topic in many families. The industry is constantly changing, and parents find themselves in difficult position trying to explain the energy transition to their children. A study 1 by Helen shows that 93% of the parents of 9–13-year-olds believe that kids learn the most about energy at home. 41% of parents felt they needed help in teaching it.

”There have always been tips for kids on how to save energy, but interesting and easy-to-digest information about energy sources and the energy transition have been scarce. The shift is currently happening, and it’s important that the future users and creators of energy have their questions answered and their curiosity piqued”, says the Tanja Kaasinen, Head of Marketing at Helen.

To spread the story online, the protagonist was turned from a 2D illustrated character into a 3D avatar with its own Instagram account. Virtual Influencers one of the big trends on social media in 2023. A report by Instagram states that over half of Gen Z social media users plan to get fashion or beauty inspiration from virtual influencers. Statista states that 35% of the US consumers have bought a product or service based on recommendation by a virtual influencer.

“The virtual influencer trend is huge. It was also highlighted by many experts we interviewed for our annual Social Media Marketing Trends, done together with Thenetworkone”, comments Jari Lähdevuori, the Creative Director of Kurio, the agency responsible for the social media part of the campaign. “Why should we tell the story of Ellen, when we can let her do it herself? And thus, an avatar was born.”

Ellen the virtual influencer was brought to life using generative AI. With the help of the award-winning post-photographer Antti Karppinen, we fed AI with the illustrations of Ellen and created a model – a code that is Ellen as a real-life 7 year-old girl. Various different AI tools were used at different parts of the process.

“As an AI specialist, this project was both challenging and thrilling. I had to employ all my skills and tools to make Ellen look as life-like as possible”, says Antti Karppinen. “The results, however, were beyond even my expectations. The project showcased the boundless possibilities that these emerging technologies offer in storytelling and visual productions.”


// The website & book:

// The virtual influencer:


Jari Lähdevuori

Creative Director & Partner
Kurio // The Social Media Age(ncy)
jari [at]
+358 (0)50 530 6630


// 1 The research commissioned to Dagmar Insight was conducted using Bilendi panel, with 200 respondents (9-13 year-olds and their parents, from all over Finland). The study was conducted between December 2022 and January 2023.  

// 2 The Instagram Trends Report 2023

// 3 Statista 2023

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