Fake Instagram profile highlights unseen dangers of drink addiction

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Charity Addicte Aide ran a clever Instagram ad campaign this summer, which aimed to raise awareness about alcoholism among young people by creating a fake profile with a troubling secret. This case study looks at how the French organisation made smart use of social media to push a powerful message.

Case study summary

• Social media campaign aimed to show just how easily the signs of addiction can be overlooked

• Created a fake Instagram personality, accruing followers for 2 months before revealing troubling secret of ‘Louise Delage’

• Ad became a trending topic in France while ‘reveal’ video got 500,000 views across all social media

The challenge

BETC was hired by Addiction Aide to create a social media campaign, in an attempt to show just how easily the signs of addiction can be overlooked.

The solution

On August 1st 2016, the campaign began by creating the fake profile of a Louise Delage appeared on Instagram. She quickly racked up followers, and by the end of September her photos and videos had more than 50,000 likes. Louise was the creation of Paris ad agency BETC, played by a model, acting out typical Instagrammed scenarios like hanging out with friends, shopping, and going to the beach.

Xiberras' team posted two-to-three posts per day at high-traffic moments. The agency also studied fashion bloggers to incorporate habits and filters they commonly use.

At least 20 fashion or food-related hashtags were included in each post and a highly efficient bot was created to like and follow specific people — such as women interested in fashion bloggers, journalists and celebrities.

Another part of the social media strategy was to create a "KOL [Key Opinion Leader] strategy" using influencers or hubs with 20,000 to 100,000 followers, who were able to "spread the Louise Delage profile among their own followers."

On 22 September she posted a video clip that revealed she was ust the product of the campaign "Like my addiction" by advertising agency BETC.

What the vast majority of Louise Delage’s followers didn’t realise was that something was always at the centre of her pictures. From weekend yachting and midnight partying to cafe lunches and lazy evenings at home, she usually had a drink in her hand. In fact, there are few images of her without a drink.

See some examples below:

Fishing Time

A photo posted by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

Family Time

A photo posted by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on


A photo posted by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

The results

Addict Aide saw five times more traffic on its site and the story became a trending topic on Twitter in France. The video had 500,000 views across all social media.

The ads are effective as they make us realise that we probably wouldn’t notice warning signs even when they’re presented on social media. We’d probably just think of each alcohol-filled picture as a one-off or a joke.

BETC Paris president and creative director Stéphane Xiberras told Adweek that the agency had been briefed "on the difficulty of detecting the addiction of someone close to you — a friend, a child or a parent."

"We thought an interesting way of showing it would be to create a person people would meet every day but whom we'd never suspect of being an addict, by setting up a fake Instagram account," he said.

"Hopefully the campaign has served as an eye-opener for some," Xiberras said. "I hope they will contact Addict Aide or other local organisations working to help people struggling with addiction.

Despite the success, it could be argued that the storytelling aspect of the campaign is flawed. Despite the ever-present drink in the photos, there are no signs of problems in Louise’s life. An arc of decay in her lifestyle, shown along her Instagram timeline, might have been a more powerful message.

However, the charity was keen to show how easy it is to 'miss' an addiction, as people are good at hiding their problems and projecting the best version of themselves (especially on social media).


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