Those of you who use Instagram will know the score. We browse through random stream of images, liking as we go, occasionally buying into the lifestyle vibes that flow our way.
But do we really know who (or what) we are following?
Enter Louise Delage.
Louise was a 25 year old Parisian social media star. Nothing out of the of the ordinary there, then.
Chilling out with friends, travelling to exotic places, having fun and generally living an aspirational vida-loca. Her images all had simple captions that captured the spark of her life – relaxed, carefree and vibrant.
Or so it seemed to the 65,000 people who followed Louise in August 2016. Odd, given that her images: a family lunch, a drink at a café or a pose beside a famous monument were hardly distinguishable from many other people’s timelines.
Yet grow her number of followers did:
“When Louise Delage arrived on August 1 2016, bearing drinks and a cheerful, sun-soaked smile, few wondered who she was. Many assumed she was [just] one more chic Parisian. Maybe she had one of those depressed Instagram husbands whose sole role in life is to capture their muses for an insatiable audience”
But hold on just a moment…
Close examination of Louise’s feed shows that in every single image, she is either holding a drink, or there is a drink in-shot.
Her mere presence was actually part of an ad campaign called “Like My Addiction” from a Paris agency called BETC. The campaign was created for AddictAide, seeking to raise awareness of alcoholism among young people.
According to AddictAide, one in every five deaths of young people annually in France is from addiction. Addict Aide provide resources for people who are worried about their own alcohol consumption, or that of someone close to them.
The mystery of Louise was revealed in this video:
The fake Instagram account was specifically designed to show a person anyone might meet every day but who would never have been suspected of being an alcoholic.
To maintain the deception, the agency employed bots and a team of creatives posting carefully considered content at strategic times. In addition, each post included up to 30 related hashtags to help grow her visibility.
Remarkably few of Louise’s followers picked up on her alcohol problem.
The campaign was entirely devised to serve as a wake up call to bring the subject to the forefront and help people struggling with addiction.
The “Like My Addiction” campaign has won over 17 international advertising awards, and the agency responsible continues to conceive and deliver innovative ideas to support Addict Aide in France.
Bizarrely, after the video reveal, the majority of Louise’s 110,000 followers remained without unsubscribing, despite no new posts being added in over six months.
You can see Louise’s Instagram here.
Icetulip / The Guardian/ AdWeek