What’s Next for Louise Delage, Instagram’s Most Fascinating Fraud

The campaign has already won 17 Lions in two days at Cannes

CANNES, France—Last summer, for an organization called Addict Aide, Paris agency BETC invented a character named Louise Delage.

The fictional woman appeared on Instagram and cleaned up on followers in a handful of weeks. (She still has over 110,000 as of this writing.) Her life was glamorous and beautiful, and people ate it up.

But a little over a month after her Instagram debut, a video appeared on her account that revealed the truth. Louise’s entire Insta universe was actually a campaign about alcohol addiction.

If her success marked and polarized us, it’s for many reasons. To start with, BETC made massive (and clever) use of a mix of bots and influencers to boost Louise’s social credibility. Many bots have since been disabled on Insta … and, well, since Fyre Festival and the Pepsi debacle, our feelings about influencers have changed dramatically.

Beyond that, the campaign as a whole acts as a pretty big rebuke to social media culture. Not only was Louise not a real person; she was expressing her addiction all along … and we were Liking all the signs.

What does that say about us?

This week at Cannes, the “Like My Addiction” campaign has already won 17 Lions—five golds, seven silvers, five bronzes—just through Tuesday’s award shows. We met with the BETC creative team to talk about Louise’s success, and what’s next for her (there’s a series in the works, of course!). In the video above, you’ll find our conversation with executive creative director Stéphane Xiberras. Below, we take a deeper dive with activation strategy head Julien Leveque, creative communication head Niamh O’Conner; and associate director Isabelle Picot.

Because this is an ad festival, we asked about the agency’s award strategy, especially since BETC is known for its production might in television, and less so for impactful digital work. Get all the goods below.

Adweek: Sum up the “Like My Addiction” campaign. What did you set out to achieve?
Isabelle Picot: It’s easy to miss out on the alcoholism of a loved one. The Actions Addictions Fund wanted to highlight this difficulty to promote its platform AddictAide.fr, the first public portal dedicated to addictions.

What were your benchmarks, and how well did you fare?
Julien Leveque: Our KPIs were 8,000 followers and at least 50,000 likes. We hit our targets as the campaign went viral, generating more than 1 billion impressions, or 9.8 million in earned media, without any advertising investment.

Louise Delage managed to attract 110,000 followers. And six months later, without posting anything new, her profile still has the same number. People didn’t unsubscribe.

Do you think your influencer approach strategy was justified, and if so, why?
JL: We used growth hacking techniques through bots and paid influencers to kickstart Louise’s profile. What changed since last year is that Instagram disabled Instagress, the bot that we used for the campaign. This affects the acquisition strategy for new accounts on Instagram. Everybody used to rely on bots.

Also, Instagram removed the chronological feed. Users are now shown content based on an algorithm. All this favors established accounts versus new ones.

IP: We can see how Instagram has matured as a platform at the same time that it ramped up its advertising strategy.

How will this affect future influencer strategies?
Niamh O’Connor: With Louise Delage, we were lucky to make this campaign at the right time. Today it would be much more difficult to achieve the same results. But even if we were to make it in June 2017, we would do it differently.

JL: Instagram has evolved so much since. They copied some Snapchat features. Last summer, Instagram was mostly about square pictures. Today, we would use a mix of images, videos, stories and live videos.