La Presse goes out of home

BCP Strategy-Creativity has created an impressive new campaign for La Presse, one of Montreal's French-language daily newspapers.The advertising is everywhere in Montreal. The ads are all over subway stations. The campaign is ubiquitous in the streets, thanks to a heavy buy...

BCP Strategy-Creativity has created an impressive new campaign for La Presse, one of Montreal’s French-language daily newspapers.

The advertising is everywhere in Montreal. The ads are all over subway stations. The campaign is ubiquitous in the streets, thanks to a heavy buy of bus shelters.

‘We spent a lot of time planning this campaign,’ says Michel Bissonnette, an account executive with bcp.

‘We wanted the creative concept to influence the media we selected,’ Bissonnette says. ‘At the same time, we wanted media efficiencies to influence the creative.’


The ads are big and big-looking, a critical aspect in effective outdoor and newspaper advertising.

Striking as the photos are, they also seem familiar.

That is the precise effect the bcp creative team wanted, says Michel Lopez, creator and writer of the ads.

Lopez says the team searched through La Presse’s archives to find photographs to marry perfectly with the concept.

One of the stand-out print ads features a photograph of Montreal Canadiens defenceman Todd Ewen.

The grainy, almost blurred photo is riveting since it appears violent and funny. Ewen has been knocked into the boards and is trying to straighten his helmet which has been rearranged on his head.

The headline reads, ‘Les joueurs nous font le tour du chapeau pour passer dans notre cahier des Sports.’ In English: ‘Players make hat tricks to appear in our sports section.’

Black and white

The photo is black and white, and Ewen is wearing his visitor’s uniform. Most of what you see is the Canadien’s big ‘C’ logo on his white jersey.

It is bound to catch any hockey fan’s attention, which, in Montreal, is just about everybody.

‘We wanted to find photos which represented the central message of the campaign,’ says Lopez. ‘We’re trying to tell our target market that stars of every field will do practically anything to get into the sections of our newspaper.’

The other six print ads are also creative and well-written. If Lopez is strong with his headlines, he does not let up in his body copy, which is a minefield of clever wordplay and double meaning.

‘There is just enough of it,’ Lopez says. ‘We didn’t overdo it.’

Each ad shows some celebrity or ‘vedette’ in an interesting and humorous situation accompanied with a tongue-in-cheek headline.

One ad shows a Cirque du Soleil acrobatics team effecting one of its flexibility-defying manoeuvres.

Cheeky headline

The cheeky headline is: ‘Les tetes d’affiche font les pieds et des mains pour etre dans notre cahier Arts et Spectacles,’ or, in English, ‘Headlines do handstands to appear in our entertainment section.’

Promoting the individual sections of the newspaper is one of the goals of the campaign. Like most newspapers, La Presse has a variety of editorial sections such as news, entertainment and sports.

The target market for the campaign is occasional readers and weekend readers.

La Presse and bcp believed if they promoted the sections more aggressively, they could convert occasional readers into full-time readers.

They also wanted to make the newspaper appear more inviting and less conservative:

‘The paper is already perceived as high quality, but it’s also considered a little intimidating,’ Lopez says. ‘We wanted to make it warmer and more accessible.’

The slogan for the campaign is one the newspaper has been using for the last six years.

‘Je pense, donc, je lis,’ or, in English, ‘I think, therefore, I read.’

This intellectual slogan is derived from French philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes, who wrote the now famous phrase, ‘I think, therefore, I am.

Montreal is a newspaper city. The markets are divided linguistically, but the city still boasts four daily newspapers.

The English market is served by only one indigenous daily, The Gazette. Readers of French get to read three different dailies, each of which is carefully edited to appeal to its target market.


La Presse is positioned in between the superbly edited, intellectual Le Devoir, and the photograph-heavy, ‘news as entertainment,’ Le Journal de Montreal.

No one would reveal the budget for the campaign. Broadcast advertising consists of radio spots and a contra deal with local rock video tv station, MusiquePlus.

‘Radio allows us to reach our target market in the morning before they go out to buy their newspapers,’ Bissonnette says.

Michael Judson is president of Montreal ad agency Publicite Judson Woods.