Alcan job gives Blouin a boost

A flagship Montreal company has dramatically improved its reputation in its home city thanks to an award-winning campaign from one of the small, plucky local agencies that recently swallowed a big, multinational shark.Blouin Coulombe Dube Thompson, the Montreal shop which last...

A flagship Montreal company has dramatically improved its reputation in its home city thanks to an award-winning campaign from one of the small, plucky local agencies that recently swallowed a big, multinational shark.

Blouin Coulombe Dube Thompson, the Montreal shop which last year cut a majority ownership deal with wpp’s J. Walter Thompson office here, says the campaign it created for multinational aluminum manufacturer, Alcan, has knocked the effectiveness-measuring needle off the scale.

Its latest corporate advertising campaign for Alcan has increased public ‘favorability’ towards the company by 15%. The results have surprised everyone involved.

Successful campaign

‘It was an extremely successful campaign,’ says Brigitte Mittelhammer, the account executive responsible for the Alcan account. ‘The change in attitude towards the company is marked.

‘Normally, if you get a 5% increase, you’ve done a great job.’

Jean-Guy Thibault, Alcan’s manager of advertising says the people at crop, the company which conducted the survey to measure the campaign’s effectiveness, are scratching their heads.

The company said its reputation in Quebec has been declining among young people in recent years as a result of bad press created by the efforts of Greenpeace, the environment watchdog which had taken the company to task on different fronts.

‘We were losing ground with the young people in Quebec,’ Thibault says. ‘We had to do something. The older crowd was familiar with Alcan, and we had no problems with them.’

Says Mittelhammer: ‘We wanted to position Alcan as a modern company that will be there in the future.’

The company traditionally shapes its corporate image with print ads. The idea to do tv was new.

Media planning

Media planning was relatively simple, thanks to the highly segmented nature of the market: Quebec youth, aged 18-34, and another core group of 18 to 25-year-olds. Identified thus, the only choice for media was MusiquePlus, the music/rock video station, Montreal’s equivalent of MuchMusic.

‘This is corporate advertising, but it’s very different,’ Thibault says. ‘You can’t be boring with young people, especially on a channel like MusiquePlus.’

Not to worry. This series of four spots really cooks. Rock-solid concepts, superb art direction, lots of action, and dashes of humor.

‘Mode Metal’ is the title of the spot that won a Silver at this year’s Coq d’Or contest, the annual creativity contest sponsored by the Publicite Club de Montreal.

It is filled with great visuals and clever French wordplay, which centres on the tagline and how the concept connects with it.

It reads ‘L’avenir appartient a ceux qui le modelent. L’aluminium: le metal des creations nouvelles.’ Or, in English: ‘The future belongs to those who shape it. Aluminum: the metal of new creations.’

The word ‘mode’ means ‘fashion’ in French and the fashion in this advertising is made of aluminum. ‘Modelent’ means ‘to shape or model’ and is a clever connection with ‘mode’ or ‘fashion,’ and with ‘shaping’ the future.

The 20-second spot starts with a woman walking down a fashion runway, and then cuts to other models slithering through the inside of a candle-lit castle.

The clothes are sexy, futuristic and metallic. There is a visual emphasis on natural materials such as sand, fire and water. The message is that aluminum is a natural product, or at least a fabrication of natural materials.

Great music

It is a glamorous excursion reinforced by great music. The music sounds as if it was played on natural instruments, but it is all synthesizer. It is well-produced.

The sets are equally excellent and designed by a local, young up-and-comer, Michaele Brete. The stylist was Sylvie Mayrand, assisted by Rejean Desrocher.

Just about everyone involved in the production was a talented up-and-comer, according to Mittelhammer. It is nice to see an agency giving new people a chance, and it is even nicer to see the new people deliver.

The concept

Thibault says the idea, or the concept, for the spot came from the fact that many well-known designers have used aluminum to create fashion.

Originally, he was worried the provocative clothing in the spot might offend some people.

‘I thought that some people at Alcan might find the ad too sexy,’ Thibault says. ‘But it didn’t offend anyone.’

Mittelhammer says the spot looks great and that is why it won at this year’s Coq d’Or awards.

‘I think they liked its aesthetics,’ she says. ‘I think the concept is avant-gardiste. It placed the product in a futuristic mode, and it’s just not your typical corporate ad.’

Three more spots accompanied ‘Metal Mode.’ One, called ‘Heavy Metal’ shows guys from a bike gang collecting their empty cans for recycling.

‘It makes people understand by entertaining and informing them at the same time,’ Mittelhammer says.

Michael Judson is president of Publicite Judson, a Montreal ad agency.