It’s been revealed that a French ‘Instagram star’ who amassed 75k followers in two months is actually nothing more than an elaborate hoax, created by an advertising agency to raise awareness of alcohol addiction.
‘Louise Delage‘, apparently a 25-year-old Parisian, joined Instagram on August 1 this year and managed to reach the lofty levels of ~Instafame~ within a few short weeks.
Except that on September 22 this year, the account was revealed to be a fake. ‘Louise Delage’ was entirely made up, a construct of advertising agency BETC for French support service Addict Aide, an organisation which was seeking to raise awareness of alcoholism in young people.
The 150th and final Instagram post – a video – highlighted the fact that ‘Louise’ was drinking in every single photo, even if it was pretty well hidden.
The final video post itself is in French, but an English version was uploaded to YouTube, so here you go:
“We were briefed on the difficulty of detecting the addiction of someone close to you—a friend, a child or a parent,” BETC president and creative director Stéphane Xiberras told AdWeek. “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.”
They basically analysed the content posted by similar Instagram accounts, right down to the filters favoured by fashion bloggers, and used that to construct an account destined for popularity.
Next, BETC had to actually make ‘Louise’ popular. In a pretty unusual move for the secretive advertising industry, the agency told AdWeek step-by-step how they did it.
“We set up a well-known bot to like and follow specific people – like women interested in fashion bloggers, journalists and celebrities,” said Xiberras, adding that the account posted at key times throughout the day when people are – AND WE QUOTE – most likely to be “stalking others”. (They’re morning, lunchtime, and late evening, for those of you playing at home.)
By all accounts, the campaign was wildly successful. Global media might only be picking up the story now, but in France the ~big reveal~ generated literally hundreds of articles and sent five times the normal levels of traffic to Addict Aide.
“Hopefully the campaign has served as an eye-opener for some,” said Xiberras. “I hope they will contact Addict Aide or other local organisations working to help people struggling with addiction.”
Okay mates, obviously Addict Aide is a French website, but Australia’s got some pretty great resources too – if you or someone you know is hitting the booze with alarming frequency, there’s a number of resources you can check out on drinkwise.org.au.
Photo: Instagram / @louise.delage.