Fondation Chirac: Starfakers


Fondation Chirac, well known in Africa for its healthcare initiatives, briefed us with a single figure: 800,000 deaths a year occur due to fake medicine. 

The objective was to make as big of a splash as possible to raise awareness about this tragedy. The campaign used fake African music stars in a surprising approach to fighting fake drugs. The fame of the participating artists amplified the impact of the campaign in both conventional and social media. Just as fake drugs thrive on the popularity of their real counterparts, we used real celebrities’ fame to deliver our message to the widest possible audience with zero media investment. 

The idea: Use fake music stars to show just how disastrous fake medicine is. The brief was to cause a stir, so butchering real artists’ music with fake versions made sense for our campaign. We convinced Africa’s music stars to accept being faked, before unveiling the trick to deliver our message. 

Our initiative snowballed and 17 of Africa’s top music artists pranked their fans with fake interviews and songs. The problem of fake medicine is above all an issue of money, so the target we had to reach was Africa’s poorest and least informed populations. Our approach was to help these populations realize the harmful, disastrous effects of fake medicine easily and safely – and in a striking way – while avoiding placing the blame on them for buying counterfeit products. 

To achieve this goal, every artist accepted to share their pranks with their fans on social media, and continent-wide media networks also broadcast the pranks on TV and radio as partners. The fame of the artists we faked boosted the PR impact and widened our target range. We created a real environment for our fake stars: fake interviews, fake radio shows, etc. 

After this content was released and the public started to react, we held the press conference for the campaign launch. The videos of the pranks were provided to TV networks, which broadcast them for free, representing €200k in earned media. All the participating artists shared their pranks with their fans on social networks, reaching a total of 10.2 million people. The natural reach would have required a €150k investment.

Advertising Agency:Havas, Puteaux, France
Executive Creative Director:Christophe Coffre
Creative Directors:Alban Penicaut, Thomas Derouault
Copywriter:Constantin de La Borde
Art Director:Benoit Pinon
Production Company:Code Films
Sound Design Company:HRCLS
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