Who Is Louise Delage? The Troubling Truth Behind an Overnight Instagram Success

When likes act as enablers

We all know a girl like Louise Delage. You've been on Instagram for years and are scraping by with 50 likes on a good day—then she appears on the scene, with her fun little life, and cultivates over 16,000 followers in a few months.

In the years following LonelyGirl15, we learned to be wary of that kind of success. Who is this girl, and what does she do? But "personal branding," Instagram stardom and the overall pressure to demonstrate the most photogenic parts of our lives have perhaps blunted our critical knives. Aren't we all stars for somebody? 

So when Louise Delage arrived on Instagram on Aug. 1, bearing drinks and a cheerful, sun-soaked smile, few wondered who she was. Many assumed she was 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 no, that wasn't it at all. We've been LonelyGirled again! 

The 25-year-old social star—who racked up over 50,000 likes in a couple of months with photos of boat parties, travel and endless dinners—is actually part of a campaign from Paris agency BETC called "Like My Addiction."

Because did you notice something odd about Louise? She's almost always holding a drink. Louise is a textbook alcoholic. 

The truth was revealed in a video published on Instagram and YouTube last week:

The campaign was created with help from production company Francine Framboise for Addict Aide, which sought to raise awareness of alcoholism among young people. 

Per the organization, out of every five deaths of young people annually, one is from addiction. Addict Aide provides resources for people who are worried about their own alcohol consumption, or that of someone close to them. 

"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 Paris tells AdFreak. "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."

Xiberras details how the agency went about creating such massive visibility for Louise in a short period of time. "We rooted our craft into native Instagram content and user habits," he explains, "building an acquisition strategy around four pillars: content, hashtags, bots and a KOL [key opinion leader] strategy."

The team posted two to three posts per day at high-traffic moments—in the morning, at lunchtime and late at night, "when people are stalking others." (Well, now we're out of the closet.) BETC also studied fashion bloggers, including their attitude and the filters they most commonly use.

To ensure the content was found, each post included a mix of 20-30 hashtags related to fashion, food, nature and parties.

"We also set up a well-known bot to like and follow specific people—like women interested in fashion bloggers, journalists and celebrities," Xiberras adds. The bot was decidedly efficient: While Louise's follower count totals more than 16,700, she herself is following only 3,156 well-chosen people.

"Finally, we created a KOL strategy, using teenage key opinion leaders, with between 20,000 to 100,000 followers, to talk about our account and spread the Louise Delage profile among their own followers," Xiberras says. 

It isn't often you get a strategic response this detailed and candid. No one will judge you if you copy and paste for later use. (Well, maybe this guy will.)

All told, however, Xiberras feels Louise could have done better. "We hoped for more followers to take notice of Louise's behavior," he says. "There were a few people who sensed the trap—a journalist among others, of course—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." 

Hours after the reveal, Addict Aide saw five times more traffic to its site than normal. The story generated over 140 articles and became a trending topic on Twitter in France. Overall, Louise Delage's sad secret won 500,000 total video views across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and posts by key opinion leaders … all with zero media investment.

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

And if you're having trouble gauging whether somebody's an addict, or just living it up, he's got a useful tell: "Sometimes it seems like in this era, the more people stage their ideal life on social media, the more that serves to hide a not-so-ideal reality."

CREDITS

—Film
Client: Addict Aide
Client Management: Michel Reynaud, Amine Benyamina
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Catherine Emprin, Isabelle Picot
Executuve Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras
Art Director: Rayhaan Khodabux
Copywriter: Rémi Campet
Traffic: Marie-Caroline Pupin
TV Producer: Christine Lefers
Executive TV Producer: Stéphanie Huguenin
Production House: Francine Framboise
Sound Production: Gum
Director: Pierre Edouard Joubert
Activation Strategy Director: Julien Lévêque

—Web
Client: Addict Aide
Client Management: Michel Reynaud, Amine Benyamina
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Catherine Emprin, Isabelle Picot
Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras
Art Director: Rayhaan Khodabux
Copywriter: Rémi Campet
Strategic Planning: Julien Lévêque
Production: Stéphanie Huguenin (Francine Framboise)
Media Plan: Instagram