Louise Delage seemed to be living the picture-perfect Instagram life. The 25-year-old Parisian shared photos of herself out on the town, enjoying dinner parties with attractive friends, lounging on yachts, and rocking the hell out of some French scarves. She was also completely fake — created by an ad agency to secretly share an important message about addiction.
Metro reports that the ad agency BETC created Louise for its client, Addict Aide, to put a spotlight on how easily you can look past a friend or loved one's alcoholism. After all, Louise looks like she's having a great time, but when you zoom out, you notice there's alcohol in every single picture.
According to Adweek, BETC posted photos at times when lots of users go on Instagram, had the account follow social "influencers" in hopes they would follow back, and added lots of hashtags related to food, fashion, and parties, among other topics. After two months, Louise's photos and videos helped her account rack up 58,000 followers, with hundreds of likes on each post. "There were a few people who sensed the trap — a journalist among others, of course," the ad agency's president and creative director Stéphane Xiberras said, "but in the end, the majority just saw a pretty young girl of her time and not at all a kind of lonely girl, who is actually not at all that happy and with a serious alcohol problem."
The ruse was up when the account posted its "Like My Addiction" video on Instagram and YouTube, both in French and English. It was a rude awakening for Louise's followers: All this time, they could have been liking, and perhaps enabling, signs of addiction.
The creators of the ad campaign hope it opens people's eyes to their own substance issues, or prompts them to help a friend or loved one who has a problem. And overall, the campaign sheds a light on how easy it is to stage an identity — real or fake — on social media. No matter how glamorous someone's life may seem, there could be something darker lurking underneath.
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