From shattered mirrors and cryptic notes to religious texts and ominous stains, the scene in this Paris apartment contained plenty of clues for amateur detectives to piece together.
And yet 7,000 of them tried, without one uncovering the real story.
Aspiring sleuths—who assumed they were taking part in an escape-room-style mystery game—guessed that “Laurence,” the owner of the seemingly ransacked apartment, was everything from a smuggler to a vampire. But the real story was one that was hiding in plain sight:
A highly anticipated follow-up to French agency BETC’s award-winning “Like My Addiction” campaign around fictional alcoholic socialite Louise Delage, “Laurence’s Secret” continues the interactive mystery elements while grounding them more in the real world.
Laurence’s apartment is a recreation of the real home of Laurence Cottet, a wealthy and successful French executive who is, thankfully, still alive and neither a vampire nor a shadowy crime figure.
She was, however, an alcoholic. The many clues of danger and destruction in her apartment, which thousands of amateur investigators over the course of a month took to be signs of a murder or abduction, were in fact the signs of someone caught in the potentially deadly cycle of alcoholism.
Mirrors were shattered not in a fight but in destructive moments of self-loathing. A dark stain on the carpet was red wine, not blood. A half-empty perfume bottle was an emergency source of alcohol. A blood-stained toothbrush hinted at bleeding gums, one of the first signs of liver damage. And eerie, repetitive notes were simply Laurence’s attempt to prevent herself from drinking.
Laurence herself even appeared on screen at the end of the escape-room mystery, created as part of the campaign, bringing a personal and memorable conclusion to what participants had assumed was a fun bit of crime fiction.
The message, as with Louise Delage always being shown with a drink close at hand, is that signs of alcoholism can be easy to miss—or misinterpret.
“The secret of Laurence is also the daily reality of millions of women just like her, struggling each day with the pressing need to drink, imposed on them by their disease and the pressing need to keep up appearances, imposed on them by society,” says Amine Benyamina, an addiction psychiatrist and one of the developers of the portal Addictaide.fr.
BETC says Laurence has now recovered “and with Addict Aide she wants to bring a hopeful message: Alcoholism is neither a weakness nor an inevitability. It is a disease that can be treated, for those that are ready to accept that they need help.”
Client Addict Aide
Client Management Michel Reynaud, Amine Benyamina
Agency Management Catherine Emprin, Isabelle Picot
Executive Creative Director Stéphane Xiberras
Art Director Rayhaan Khodabux
Copywriter Rémi Campet
Traffic Marie-Caroline Pupin, Morgane Tresal
Production Studio Francine Framboise
Producer Stéphanie Huguenin
Place / Partner Escape Lab
Game Designer Alexis Moroz
Director Arthur Cemin
Set Design Vincent Dizien & Christophe Bonnet
Film Editor Manuel Guillon
Graphic Designer Pierre Édouard Joubert
Post Production Rita & Firm
Post Producer Clément Lesgo
Sound Production Gum
Activation Strategy Julien Leveque, Charlotte Jacquety