Quebec places bigger premium on creative executions

Although the controversy surrounding the likes of Group Everest or Groupaction made some dramatic headlines, the real story in the Quebec ad community was a more than healthy fiscal year and a plethora of creative successes.

Although the controversy surrounding the likes of Group Everest or Groupaction made some dramatic headlines, the real story in the Quebec ad community was a more than healthy fiscal year and a plethora of creative successes.

When it comes to Quebec marketing, shops that are more in touch with the street score the bigger wins, using local talent and creative to drive affinity and consumer response. Unlike perhaps the rest of the country – or North America, for that matter – Quebecers seem to place a bigger premium on creative executions, with an emphasis on smart rather than smart-ass. And nothing goes further in gaining credibility for a product than a local spokesperson. Just ask Bell’s Monsieur B.

There’s almost a knee-jerk reaction for advertisers to go with the local shops when going after Quebec – and deservingly so. Cossette, Marketel, Publicis and Diesel are at the top of their game when it comes to servicing their home turf. From industry accolades to new accounts, these shops had success after success this year. There is a healthy vitality and joie de vivre in the marketplace, and the creatives show it. And there’s room for smaller shops as well in this environment – because Quebec loves a good idea, fresh ads and concepts level out the playing field.

Consequently, marketing in Quebec is no longer mandated to exclusively francophone shops. Local doesn’t necessarily mean French. Of course, street-level executions and direct marketing campaigns need to be bilingual at the very least, but the Quebec market has been thawing to campaigns not born from their provincial brethren. If the campaign is witty, charming, avant-garde, a bit self-deprecating, home-grown or cultural, chances are the Quebec market will be receptive.

The stigma of provincialism must be erased in the minds of advertisers and marketers outside of Quebec. Often, the province is totally ignored in campaign roll-outs and strategies of major companies. There is a sense of apprehension when confronting the anomalies of La Belle Province. In reality, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Instead, there is ample opportunity.

I am continually amazed at the wide range of talents and experience that young Quebecers bring to art departments, street teams and creative milieus. The runaway cost of living in Toronto has only added to this artistic melting pot, as artists find starving in Montreal much more bearable. Expect some great things from the Montreal community very, very soon.

Best Campaign From a Quebec Agency:

The work that Cossette has done with Bell this year is exceptional. In particular, their direct mail creative, as well as their street actionables for Solo’s Job Poche campaign. Marketel’s work for Rogers AT&T has also been exceptional.

Worst Campaign Unleashed Upon Unsuspecting Quebecers:

All the torn down posters around Montreal. There seems to be a poster war, the means of which include tearing down competitors’ posters. There’s nothing uglier than a wall of half-ripped creative.

Max Lenderman is partner and CD at Gearwerx, a youth marketing company based in Montreal.