BETC Paris’ “Like My Addiction” campaign for Addict Aide was not only one of the most talked about and heralded campaigns of the past year, but last month became one of the most-awarded campaigns at the 2017 Cannes Lions festival.
The Instagram activation depicted the often-glamorous life of fictitious character “Louise Delage,” which hid a dangerous secret in plain sight. In just a few weeks the account racked up followers—to date “Louise” has 110,000 followers.
The campaign took home 19 Lions (five Gold, nine Silver, five Bronze) across six categories (Cyber, Direct, Media, Mobile, Promo, and PR)—placing it just behind “Meet Graham” and “Hungerithm” in terms of awards.
Here, BETC Paris Copywriter Rémi Campet and Art Director Rayhaan “Ray” Khodabux talk about the campaign’s beginnings, success and why having a small budget made “Louise Delage.”
What was the goal of the “Like My Addiction” campaign?
Rayhaan “Ray” Khodabux: The initial brief was to target the relatives of alcoholics and not the addicts themselves. We wanted to show how easy it is to miss the addiction of someone close to you or a relative. Instead of doing a regular 60-second TV spot, we wanted to do something different, something that really moved people. Hence, the use of Instagram.
Was the media defined in the brief?
RK: No. The media wasn’t defined in the initial brief. But the lack of budget forced us to come up with innovative ways to execute our idea.
Rémi Campet: The creative idea itself: “It’s easy to miss the addiction of someone close.” That idea could have been executed in a lot of different ways. We could have done a film that would have turned out a bit like “Evan” for Sandy Hook Promise. We could have used more traditional, but costly, media.
What’s funny is that it’s the lack of budget that made us decide to use social media, in particular, Instagram. For once, it was a positive thing to have a small budget for a campaign. Normally, you complain, as a creative, to not have a bigger budget to execute your idea. This time, it was an advantage.
When you first came up with the idea, did you think it had a chance to become as big as it has, including winning 19 Cannes Lions?
RC: Not at all. These things are impossible to predict. You can feel that your idea has some potential, but there are so many factors involved. It is impossible to predict that you are going to win even one Lion. To end up winning 19 Lions is incredible.
And if these things were that predictable, everybody would have the recipe and every agency would create award-winning campaigns all the time.
RK: The campaign received a lot of attention right from the start. We were expecting to get some coverage, but we were not expecting that much coverage, to be honest. And it is always tricky to evaluate how a campaign will do because there are so many factors. It depends on what’s going on at that time and which campaigns are being released at the same time.
RC: It depends on what’s going on in the general news also. About the time when we were launching the campaign, rumors were saying that former French President Jacques Chirac might die of illness, as he was in the hospital. If we had pushed the reveal of the campaign and Chirac would have died a few hours later, it would have jeopardized the whole thing. Especially the PR part of the campaign, which would have affected the strength of the case study and the awards campaign. All the awards that we received are somewhat linked to the press coverage that the operation earned.
What was Addict Aide’s reaction to the idea?
RK: The client understood that the lack of budget was forcing us to be innovative with our media choices. They also understood that it was the perfect medium to reach our target, especially a younger audience, which was part of the brief.
How was the client involved in the success?
RK: The client is deeply involved in the success. They realize how it benefits them in terms of brand awareness. They were able to get significant coverage for their NGO. Through all this, they are able to get maximum exposure.
Is there anything you wish you did differently?
RK: No. The tricky part was to go all the way with our two-part strategy and to not reveal that Louise was an alcoholic too soon.
Where there any moments before the launch where you thought, “This isn’t going to work?”
RC: One journalist found out that Louise wasn’t a real person and contacted the agency.
RK: His investigation forced us to reveal the operation a few days earlier than what was planned. But that didn’t change the ending of the campaign. We were confident that it would work as we were closely monitoring the rise of Louise’s followers. People didn’t immediately see that she was an alcoholic when we first started posting.
There could have been many different ways for the reveal part to go unnoticed. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. We had strong media coverage from the start, and we managed to get some attention from large international media outlets like NowThis. The campaign traveled quickly outside of French borders.
What about Instagram made it the perfect platform for the campaign, and was there a reason you didn’t extend to other platforms?
RK: Instagram is a platform where image and appearance rule the game. Posting a picture of yourself drinking alcohol is cool on Instagram, which makes it the perfect place to address “social alcoholism.” Nothing is cooler than a picture on a rooftop with drinks and friends.
RC: Instagram makes it also easy to target your relatives. You are very close to the people you follow on Instagram, just as in real life.
RK: There is also the fact that your followers tend to like every single picture that you post without really paying attention to it. That is why we called the campaign “Like My Addiction.”
So is there any significance behind the name “Louise Delage?”
RK: We were looking for a name that sounds French and a bit Parisian chic, but was quite familiar. From a legal standpoint, we also had to use a generic name for that campaign.
RC: There are a lot of people named Louise Delage.
What was your Cannes experience like?
RK: Cannes was cool. It was so inspiring to see the work from all the other agencies. We had a great time. It was a super-experience for us. Early in the week, we already had eight shortlists, so we were quite relaxed. It started just fine. It’s not like when you see all your friends get Lions all week, and you are waiting those five days for the Film shortlist to drop.
RC: But new categories shortlists were unveiled every day, so every morning, we were a bit anxious.
What are you planning to do with your Lions?
RC: It turns out that I have an empty glass cupboard in my apartment. I am sure it would be the perfect place to put some trophies into it. But, jokes aside, we will try to multiply them and get some more.