Name: made sure of, was that each picture

Name: Gary Crowe

Student Number: 15750605

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Module: CM31OO PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Lecturer: Martin Molony

Assignment: Case Study – Like My Addiction

Executive Summary

On August 1st of 2016 French addiction support service Addict
Aide, along with the help of Paris based advertising agency BETC, launched the
“Like my Addiction” campaign.  The
organization states that in France “out of every five deaths of young people
annually, one is from addiction” (Natividad and Natividad 2017).  Addict Aide provides resources for those who
are either worried about their own alcohol consumption or that of the people
closest to them.  The aim of the campaign
was to create awareness or to highlight the lack of awareness of alcohol
addiction among those closest to us. A false Instagram account was created
featuring a young female named Louise Delage, who would post regularly
throughout the day, using images that highlighted her seemingly fabulous life.
But what the agencies involved also made sure of, was that each picture also
featured Louise drinking or holding an alcoholic beverage.  When describing the project, BETC president
and creative director Stephane Xiberras Paris explained, “We were briefed
on the difficulty of detecting the addiction of someone close to you—a friend,
a child or a parent… “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” (Natividad and
Natividad 2017).

Stakeholders

This campaign involved a wide variety of stakeholders as there are
such a huge number of people affected by alcohol addiction not only in France
but worldwide. This campaign not only caused people to consider their behavior
and that of those close to them, but it caused them to consider the fact they
may actually be inadvertently encouraging it. 
The campaign also challenges people to become more aware of how they
perceive what they see online as things may not always be as perfect as they
seem and that it is worth looking deeper. In this case, the majority of Louise
Delages’ followers were focused on the boat she was on or the party she was
attending in her posts as opposed to the fact that she appeared to be drinking
all day every day. Because of these challenges the campaign reached out to and
attempted to impact all social media users. This campaign also affected
companies that use social media as a part of their PR campaigns as this campaign
also highlights some of the methods used to gain followers which include “bot”
strategies, several of which have been banned from use since this campaign took
place.

Mass Media

Although initially the campaign relied solely on the social media
platform Instagram, the reveal of its true purpose then caused it to be
catapulted through mass media worldwide. 24 hours after the big reveal,
#louisedelage became a trending topic in France. The story generated over 140
articles.  Two weeks later the campaign
had been shared 500,000 times.  Louise
Delage was covered by media on every continent. 
She also reached 110,000 followers after the reveal and has managed to
maintain them which indicate that people were not upset about the secret and
are engaging with the underlying issues. 
The video has since reached over 900,000 views on YouTube.

Social Media

Social Media, Instagram in particular, played the central role in
this campaign as it was the platform that was chosen by the agencies to gather
their following before revealing their big secret and spreading their intended
message.  This campaign was particularly
controversial in regard to social media as it not only raised questions about
the way that social media users can inadvertently encourage addiction, confusing
it with a trait of a glamorous lifestyle, but it also revealed the methods that
many companies use when attempting to gain high quantities of followers and
likes of their content. BTEC revealed the numerous lengths that they went to in
order to acquire a high number of likes and followers for Laura’s Instagram
page and posts. They studied fashion bloggers, including their attitude and the
filters they most commonly use. They posted pictures at “high traffic” times of
the day to ensure the highest number of social media users would be scrolling
and “liking”. Each post included a mix of 20-30 hashtags related to fashion,
food, nature, and parties to ensure that they would be easily discovered. President
of BETC, Stephane Xiberra explained that they used well-known bots, automated
systems designed to like and follow specific people as well as developing KOL(Key
Opinion Leaders) strategy where they use online influencers with huge numbers
of followers to discuss Louise’s page and gain followers for it. As a result of
these growth hacking techniques, in just 7 weeks her photos and videos had over
50,000 likes. 

Images

The images and what was hidden inside them were the main message
of the campaign. The two main requirements were that they had to be in the
style of a popular fashion blogger and that they had to contain a drink in
them. Then the methods that were previously outlined which included, hashtags,
bot strategies and KOL strategies were implemented. 12 Instagram users were
recruited to post some of Louise’s images on their own pages in order to
further the hype and raise interest. The images were an essential part of this
process as the public not only initially interacted by liking and sharing these
images, but later when the reveal was made they would revisit the images in
hindsight and detect the signs that they had previously missed, causing them to
think about the issue at hand. 

Numbers

In the final video that was posted on Louise’s account they reveal
that she received over 50,000 likes in just two months and then pose the
question, “but are you aware of what were you liking?”

Ethics

Numerous ethical concerns come to mind with campaigns such as
this. One of the most obvious being that the campaign was, strictly speaking,
built on a lie. BETC strategic planner Julien Leveque says that BETC chose
Instagram for its “authenticity and credibility” (Influence 2017) with users.
However, a campaign like this seems to undermine that credibility. Leveque
adds, “We didn’t tell Instagram what we were doing because we knew there was a
risk they wouldn’t let us. It wasn’t until the PR coverage started rolling in
that he knew it had really worked (Influence 2017)”. However, Amy Cole head of
brand development at Instagram EMEA stated, “Instagram is a place where people
follow their passions. We see this as a creative execution. Some brands set up
accounts for mascots and we do clearly identify paid-for content. But as long
as they don’t breach our community guidelines and as long as they follow local
standards, we won’t interfere” (Influence 2017).

Another issue that people had was when it came to the Key Online
Leaders.  Only some of them revealed that
they were paid to post content about Louise, an issue which was just one of a
series of moral and practical questions raised by PR practitioners.

With regard to the fact that the campaign was dishonest, many
industry members argue that “the lie” lent itself to the underlying message
that things are not always as they seem. And that although we may choose to
display a framed perception of ourselves, quite often there can be underlying
facts, and as a result “the lie” further ads to the awareness being created by
the campaign.

Crisis Communication

Addict Aide estimates that addictions are behind 1 in 5 deaths
yearly and in one out of two criminal acts, especially among young people.   The “like my addiction” campaign was founded
due to this crisis of deaths and crime amongst young drinkers. Its aim was to
create a mass awareness of alcohol addiction among young people and the fact
that we need to be more aware of our own behaviour and the behaviour of others.
Louise Delages’ Instagram account was a perfect example of how people can look
past some of the simplest and most obvious signs of addiction.

Evaluation

I believe that BETC’s campaign for Addict Aide was successful
because it tapped into its audience, their needs and the way they consume
information. By choosing social media as their platform and using growth
hacking techniques, they instantly gained the attention of a much wider
audience than would have been possible when using a different medium. By taking
the time to study in depth, the most successful techniques and niches for
gaining limelight on Instagram, they were able to maximise their potential
audience by manipulating and attracting Instagram users into discovering,
following, and even growing to like Louise Delage.  I believe that the shock and impact of the
secret and the reveal further propelled the campaign and its’ underlying
message into the limelight with the help of the mass media. The campaign
created a huge buzz in different circles. Some talked about the model. Some
talked about the successful marketing techniques used. Several industry members
questioned the ethics of the campaign. But each conversation reverted back to
the underlying messages of alcohol addiction and the need to pay attention and
to look past the images that we display online and delve deeper into the people
behind them. 

I do believe that the organisation relied too much on the assumption
that the public would do further research once the reveal had their attention.
While the final Instagram post, which was a video, revealed that Louise was an
alcoholic, it only listed statistics relating to the number of likes that she
received. I believe the video and its power to grab the viewer’s interest would
have been a perfect opportunity to display some of the numbers and statistics
regarding alcohol use among young people. Although the organisation’s name is
featured towards the end of the video I believe the final post could have been
utilised to inform people of the statistics that created the need for a
campaign such as this.

However, in terms of social media interaction and media coverage
the campaign was hugely successful. With ‘zero media investment’, the campaign
apparently generated more than 140 articles and became a trending topic on
Twitter in France. More importantly, Addict Aide saw five times more traffic to
its site than normal (Leigh and Leigh 2017). Nowadays, it is hard to trick an
audience into thinking that something is real, but this experiment managed to
pull it off. Although one or two journalists discovered that something was
“off”, Stephane Xiberras  noted that “the
majority just saw a pretty young girl of her time and not at all a kind of
lonely girl, who is actually not all that happy and with a serious alcohol
problem.” (Writer 2017)

The organisation reached their goals which included, brand
awareness, reach, online traffic, engagement and views.  And they did so without using media buys, but
instead by acquiring the knowledge to master the mechanisms of successful social
media use.

Bibliography

Natividad, A. and Natividad, A. 2017. Who Is Louise Delage? The
Troubling Truth Behind an Overnight Instagram Success. Adweek.com. Available
from:
http://www.adweek.com/creativity/who-louise-delage-troubling-truth-behind-overnight-instagram-success-173792/
Accessed December 12, 2017.

Influence, C. 2017. INFLUENCE – The fictional influencer – the
sobering truth about Louise Delage. INFLUENCE. Available from:
http://influence.cipr.co.uk/2017/05/05/fictional-influencer-sobering-truth-louise-delage/
Accessed December 12, 2017.

Leigh, R. and Leigh, R. 2017. Popular Instagram account revealed
as campaign to raise awareness of alcoholism in young people | PR Examples.
Prexamples.com. Available from:

Popular Instagram account revealed as campaign to raise awareness of alcoholism in young people


Accessed December 12, 2017.

Writer, S. 2017. What Instagram Star Louise Delage Can Teach You
About Marketing. Entrepreneur. Available from:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283237 Accessed December 13,
2017.