Cannes Lions

Calling all Emilys

BETC, Paris / DUOLINGO / 2022

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Overview

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Overview

Background

There was a lot of hype in the build-up to the launch of Emily in Paris 2. People all over the world wondered if she’d repeat the hilarious and often clumsy mistakes of the first season. Many of these cultural faux pas were triggered by her complete inability and unwillingness to learn French, despite having moved to Paris. Would she try harder this time? Or would more drama unfold due to her adorable naivety? This insight inspired the brief as it felt like the perfect cultural moment for a language app with a limited marketing budget to jump on. The objective was simple: participate and takeover this ongoing conversation ahead of, and during, the release of this highly anticipated show.

Idea

On the day of the launch, Duolingo released a film on all their social channels featuring several real Emilys in Paris, begging all Emilys worldwide to do better than the one on TV. A CTA at the end of the film encouraged viewers to take part in their simple promotion: a free month-long subscription to their French course. But only if your name was Emily. Other pronunciations of the name were also accepted, including Amelie, Emilie, Milly, and more. The promotion went live for 48-hours from when the show first aired, with thousands of real Emilys signing up in that time. Duolingo then reached out to Netflix, as well as famous Emilys, in order to provoke a response. And while they never heard back from Netflix, they did hear back from someone else: the real Emily in Paris herself, aka Lily Collins, who shared the film on her socials.

Strategy

In its second annual report, Duolingo released research that indicated that one of the main drivers of language learning app adoption were TV series on, or in, a foreign language. Of all respondents, 20% said that watching Emily in Paris increased their desire to learn French. Which is why this was such huge opportunity, amplified by the fact that the show’s protagonist still hadn’t bothered to learn French herself, much to the annoyance of people worldwide. We simply needed to find a way to harness people’s desire to live Emily’s life even better than she was living it.

Execution

The project kicked off as soon as the release date of the new season was announced. With a turnaround of a couple of months and a budget of only 20,000 Euros, we had to be clever, strategically choosing to further fan the flames of the existing controversy around the show. With most of the conversation happening online, we targeted Netflix, famous Emilys, real Emilys around the world, as well as Lily Collins, many of whom saw the humour and relevance of the promotion and shared it on their own social channels.

Outcome

Within hours of its launch, the film was liked and shared tens of thousands of times, generating 2 million+ organic views, and 300,000,000 earned media impressions. Not only did 7,000 Emilys sign up to Duolingo’s French course within 48 hours, but an additional 90,000 non-Emilys signed up as well. And while Netflix never responded, we did hear from Emily in Paris herself—aka Lily Collins—who shared the film on her socials.

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