Montreal View

St. Hubert's: the right sauceIt's hard to miss this advertising campaign in Montreal right now and it's hard not to laugh when you see it.The campaign, created by local shop Communications bleu blanc rouge, features two outrageous-looking bus side ads displaying...

St. Hubert’s: the right sauce

It’s hard to miss this advertising campaign in Montreal right now and it’s hard not to laugh when you see it.

The campaign, created by local shop Communications bleu blanc rouge, features two outrageous-looking bus side ads displaying a talking pig and bull pitching St. Hubert sauces and gravy mixes.

The wise-cracking beasts figure prominently in this campaign, which also has the animals making their pitch from magazine ads and shelf-danglers.

Concerned pig

One ad shows a concerned-looking pig saying to itself: ‘J’ai quand meme pas l’air d’une dinde,’ or, in English, ‘Hey, do I look like a turkey?’

Another features a regal bull saying, ‘Trust me, I don’t look like a chicken.’

The ad shows the packaged powder sauces beneath the beasts near the slogan: ‘St. Hubert. Des sauces a toutes les viandes.’ In English: ‘St. Hubert, sauces for all kinds of meats.’

The advertiser, Blainville, Que.-based food manufacturer Berthelet et Leger, is trying to change public perception with this campaign, says Hubert Sacy, a partner at bleu blanc rouge and responsible for the agency’s strategic planning.

‘A blessing & a curse’

‘St. Hubert is such a well-established brand name in Quebec,’ says Sacy. ‘But this is both a blessing and a curse for Berthelet et Leger.’

‘The problem is, most people only associate the name St. Hubert with chicken, and we’re selling sauces which go on a variety of meats, including pork, beef, fish and chicken.’

St. Hubert is synonymous with chicken in this province, thanks to a long history of advertising by the Quebec chain of chicken restaurants under the name Les Rotisseries St. Hubert. It has been selling chicken in Quebec since at least the 1960s.

The challenge facing the agency and the client is a tricky one because of the brand name’s close association with chicken.

The St. Hubert logo, the same one used by the restaurants, is prominently displayed on the packaging, and, at first glance, it is easy to assume the product is barbecue chicken sauce and that the ad is for barbecue chicken sauce.

What the agency is hoping to do is to sufficiently intrigue people with the humorous image of the talking animals so they pay more attention to the sauce packages and the slogan.

Unconventional

This marketing challenge forced the agency to develop unconventional advertising medicine.

‘This campaign does not look like any other food advertising,’ says Sacy. ‘Berthelet et Leger has a special problem.’

In addition to being attention-grabbing and funny, this campaign is a radical departure from traditional food advertising.

Normally, these campaigns feature beauty shots of food on a plate, or a shot of a steaming ladle of sauce being poured on to a gorgeous-looking meal.

These shots have become a standard element in this kind of advertising, in the same way as shots of pouring beer and sweating steins in beer advertising have.

They are the maxims of the business. If you are advertising food, you had better use a lot of pretty shots of the food. You won’t win any creativity awards, but you will sell product.

This makes sense, but it is interesting to see an agency trying to challenge these conventions. Challenging convention can lead to breakthrough advertising.

Had to be blunt

‘We had one thing to say as clearly and creatively as possible: St. Hubert sauces are for all kinds of meat,’ says Sacy. ‘The message had to be blunt.’

The task of creating an effective ad was made easier by the fact there was only one thing that had to be said in the ad, says writer and conceptrice Chantal Joly.

‘The product is so well-established and its quality is so well-known,’ Joly says. ‘It allowed us to come up with a really straightforward ad.’

The art direction was inspired by cartoon design, she says.

The ads are actually a creative combination of photographs, illustration (simulated hand-drawn type and cartoon bubbles.)

Colorful

The ads are also colorful. The background in the pig one is pink, and red in the bull ad.

‘I think talking animals are funny,’ Joly says.

There is also something surrealistically funny about these oversized creatures talking to you from the side of a moving bus.

Michael Judson is president of Judson Woods, a full-service advertising and public relations company in Montreal.