BCP’s refreshing radio campaign

Montreal's hot, humid summer is being punctuated with a zany radio advertising campaign for a large Quebec restaurant chain.Les Rotisseries St. Hubert and its agency, BCP Strategy-Creativity of Montreal are using a radio-only campaign to kick-start sales of the restaurant's recently...

Montreal’s hot, humid summer is being punctuated with a zany radio advertising campaign for a large Quebec restaurant chain.

Les Rotisseries St. Hubert and its agency, BCP Strategy-Creativity of Montreal are using a radio-only campaign to kick-start sales of the restaurant’s recently introduced fajitas and chicken breast and lettuce sandwich.

Jolts

They have produced some of the most creative, client-nerve-testing advertising in a medium that desperately needs more than a few creative jolts.

This is among the few campaigns that really make it happen in the sound-only medium.

One of their English spots features a fictional character named Hector Gonzalez of the Mexican Tourism Board endeavoring to explain to an interviewer the reasons behind the fall in his country’s tourism business.

Fajitas

Finally, Hector is forced to admit it is because St. Hubert is now selling fajitas.

Gonzalez comes up with a scheme to correct the situation. He will go to Montreal and order the restaurant’s entire inventory of fajitas.

Here is an out-take of one of the 60-second English spots written by bcp writer/concepteur, Sam Gold:

Announcer: We go now to a St. Hubert restaurant in Montreal.

Juan: Pedro, are you sure this will work?

Pedro: Does Ricardo Montalban drive a Chrysler?

Waitress: Ready to order?

Pedro: Si, tomato juice and … (almost under his breath) 15,000 fajitas.

Waitress: Sir, that would wipe out our entire fajita supply.

Pedro: Caramba! I mean, oh, that’s too bad. But those tender breast of chicken strips and fresh vegetables wrapped in a warm tortilla with a zesty sauce. We can’t resist.

The script is funny, but the magic is in the execution.

The voices and accents are accurate. The timing is perfect, and the dialogue falls together smoothly. We know it is surreal, but we want to believe in it because the characters and their manner of delivery seem so natural.

Pirate

The English spots were produced by Toronto tontos, Pirate Radio, Pirate’s Terry O’Reilly produced and Sam Gold directed. ‘Those guys are amazing,’ says Gold of Pirate.

A small budget obliged the agency to use radio only for this campaign. ‘We had to do something really innovative with the radio ads,’ said Gold. ‘They wanted to save all their media dollars for the fall.’

He says radio is also an effective summer medium because people are outdoors more often and they have got radios with them, not 30-inch tv sets.

The media schedule is also clever. The spots air one hour before lunch and dinner. ‘Just when people start to get good and hungry.’

Gold also recommends buying 60-second spots. ‘They’re not used very much in Montreal for some strange reason, but the format makes it easier to be funny. I think this helped make the spots as effective as they are.’

Inspiration

He says the Hector Gonzalez ad was inspired by a scene in Woody Allen’s movie, Bananas.

In that film, the protagonist orders a couple of hundred thousand grilled cheese sandwiches from a restaurant in a South American country absorbed in a coup d’etat.

The French spots are 30 seconds and have a different tone and pacing. In each spot, an announcer sets up an absurd situation.

One of the funniest spots is about a judge whose patience is tested by an idiot lawyer who brings in 15 witnesses in a stupid case about a stolen lawn mower.

The judge’s good mood grows darker: ‘Il voulait eriper le petit avocat qui criait au scandale devant lui,’ he thinks to himself. In English (loosely), ‘ He wants to kill the little, screaming lawyer.’

To calm himself, the judge thinks about fajitas at St. Hubert. Finally, the loses it. ‘He, St. Hubert, j’ai faim,’ or ‘Dammit, St. Hubert, I’m hungry.’

Michel Lopez, who conceived, wrote and directed the spots says the slogan is ‘very risque.’ It is a common expression in Quebec, yet it borders on swearing. ‘It’s a very gutsy slogan, but that is what makes it so catchy,’ Lopez says.

‘I don’t know about you, but I can get pretty nasty when I’m hungry, and worse when I’m starving,’ he says. ‘This is what the spots are playing on.’

Call to action

Says Gold of his colleague’s work in French: ‘I think Michel’s spots are really good because there is a call to action.’

Lopez says that when people are hungry, ‘they’re hungry right now. We want people to act on that desire and go to St. Hubert immediately.’

The French spots were produced by Myriam Champagne of Studio Marko, Montreal, and directed by Lopez.