Ballantine's social experiment uses people's digital data to help them confront their own fakeness

First campaign from Maxi Itzkoff and Gerry Graf's Slap Global is an eye-opening study of the real vs. social self

Published On
Dec 15, 2020

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How does your social media self compare to your true self? Pernod Ricard Scotch Whiskey Ballantine’s explores this idea in an eye-opening film and study, the first work to debut from Slap Global, the creativity-led business accelerator formed earlier this year by agency vets Maxi Itzkoff and Gerry Graf.

The “Me and My Other Me” campaign’s main film features four individuals who meet face-to-face with hologram doppelgangers of themselves as they answer questions about their personalities and values. What results are surprising discrepancies between who the individuals say they are and what their digital behavior reveals about them.

The interviewer asks one woman, for example, “Are you self confident?” She replies, “Yes, I didn’t used to be, but now I am. I became more self-confident as I grew older.” Afterwards, the same question is posed to her digital likeness, meant to represent the person revealed through the woman’s data. She answers, “To seduce my partner, I searched several times for tutorials on ‘how to seduce a boy.’”

A man gets the question, “Do you like showing off?” He answers, “Not really. I’d prefer people see me as I really am.” His avatar, however, responds, “In 92% of the pictures I upload with someone, I’m next to a celebrity.”

The subjects appear flustered when confronted with the sharp contrast between what they say and what they do, some turning introspective about whether they’re really conscious of their own behavior. With that, the holograms “disintegrate” to reveal the endline and campaign tag, “You can’t please everyone. What matters is that you love yourself. Stay true.”

The campaign, aimed at the Spanish market, began with a screening of fifty people from the general population. To help lead the study, Slap Global and Ballantine’s worked closely with psychologist Juan Ramos-Cejudo, PhD,, an associate professor at Universidad Camilo Jose Cela and founder and CEO of Mind Group and data scientist Victoriano Izquierdo, CEO of Graphext, a promising data science startup. After an initial screening, the researchers shortlisted fifteen candidates for personal interviews in order to identify those with the highest social desirability scores. (Social desirability is a psychological construct that refers to research subjects’ tendency to respond in a way think is more socially acceptable rather than revealing their true feelings).

The team then chose four candidates for the final phase, and all agreed to download and share their usage data from popular digital platforms including WhatsApp, Google, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. 


Itzkoff says that admittedly, given the premise of the campaign, it was a risky move. “We asked ourselves things like: What if the data is not interesting enough? What if there’s no contradiction between the person and the data? What if the participant feels embarrassed and leaves the set? Everything could go wrong.” 

Only after shooting began and the participants’ responses jibed with the study findings could the team “start breathing again,” he says. The reactions of the subjects were captured live on set, all in one take. 

The campaign was created by Slap Global’s team across the globe, based in Buenos Aires, New York and Madrid. The company has already started in on developing another idea around the "Stay True” theme. The combination of creativity and social media data is reminiscent of Itzkoff’s efforts for Sprite, at his previous agency Santo, which included a campaign that put a cyberbully face-to-face in a room with 100 of his online victims.