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Ones to watch

In Quebec, the cult of celebrity runs deep, and the cult of celebrity endorsement runs even deeper.

In Quebec, the cult of celebrity runs deep, and the cult of celebrity endorsement runs even deeper. Former Musique Plus VJ Genevieve Bon is now a spokesperson for L’Oréal. Comedian Maxim Roy served as a pitchwoman for Suzuki’s ‘It’s True’ campaign last fall. Another comedian, Martin Matte, appears in Honda ads.

The practice is so engrained in Quebec’s marketing community that nobody batted an eye when Sleeman in Quebec featured singer Éric Lapointe, who once spent time in a Dominican Republic jail for cocaine possession. The rocker appeared in print and billboard ads for their ‘rebellious’ Old Milwaukee Dry brand last fall. And few were up in arms when the rock group Les Respectables had one of their hit songs featured in a 7-Up ad: the song was titled ‘L’homme 7:00 Up.’

Fame in Quebec is worth having. TV personality Véronique Cloutier was voted one of the most influential people in Quebec in a survey by La Presse last year. Stories about the star routinely make the cover of Le Journal.

A TV personality since the age of 14, Cloutier became one of the most popular VJs in the history of Musique Plus, hosting the Véroshow from 1995-1997. Since then, she has hosted the prestigious ADISQ (Quebec Recording Association) awards, appeared in TV specials and telethons and starred in the film Les Dangereux, while hosting the immensely popular quiz show La Fureur, now in its fifth season and drawing up to 1.2 million viewers every week. The show has served as a launching pad for brands such as Maybelline, and Cloutier now appears in a Suzuki commercial.

With this much purchasing power ripe for the plucking, smart marketers would do well to get their products in the hands of budding stars. With help from Christophe Bergeron, editor of Cahier V, Voir weekly’s entertainment guide, Strategy found three up-and-coming celebrities now dominating the Quebec airwaves.

Luck Mervil

Luck Mervil is ‘a French Lenny Kravitz,’ Bergeron says. Born in Haiti, this Montrealer released his first album in 1993 with the band Rudeluck, winning gigs at the Francofolies Festival in Montreal and the Summer Festival in Quebec. His act proved so popular that he later toured to France where his album was re-released by PolyGram. Mervil’s fame reached new heights when he won a leading role in the wildly popular French musical production of Notre-Dame de Paris. Mervil drew record audiences (over 360,000 12- to 17-year-old viewers) when he hosted the summer series MixMania on Quebec’s Vrak TV, a program that follows four girls and four boys as they record their first album. His latest album, Soul, was released last fall.

Gabrielle Destroismaisons

Gabrielle Destroismaisons is often referred to as Quebec’s Britney Spears. Born in Laval, her first album, Etc… was recorded at the tender age of 18 and went on to sell 120,000 copies in Quebec. Her combination of pop and dance music appeals to young and old alike, but Destroismaisons confirmed her youth appeal by serving as host for Celebration Youth 2002, a festival for 12- to 17-year-olds that takes place each spring in Montreal and Quebec City. Sponsored by Clean & Clear among others, the four-day festival includes concerts and performances as well as workshops and displays on the subject of music, entertainment, sports, health, education, fashion and beauty. This spring she will perform in towns across Quebec – including Maniwaki, Sainte-Thérèse, Terrebonne, Saint-Georges, Saint-Hyacinthe and Drummondville.

Natasha St-Pier

Fans throughout the francophone world are in love with this New Brunswick-born chanteuse. On Feb. 15, she was crowned Discovery of the Year at France’s Victoires de la Musique awards. Her latest album, De l’amour le mieux, was also nominated for Album of the Year and immediately went gold in Quebec, Belgium and France, selling over one million copies.

Natasha St-Pier was discovered in 1999 by Guy Cloutier (yes, Véronique’s father) of Guy Cloutier Communications, a Montreal-based company that promotes many of the province’s brightest stars. The starlet has a voice that is often compared with Celine Dion, and at just 22, she’s a powerful influence among budding young singers throughout Quebec.

Top 20 Quebecois celebrities in ads

Chantal Fontaine, NeoStrata

Benoît Briere, Bell

Guy A. Lepage, Ford

Elyse Marquis, Tim Hortons

Isabelle Brossard, Lu

Sylvie Leonard, Ford

Maxim Roy, Toyota

Sonia Vachon, Tide

Roc Lafortune, Kia

Sophie Lorain, Danone

Diane Lavallee, Le Choix du President

Genevieve Brouillette, Winners

Remy Girard, Le Choix du President

Jean-Michel, Anctil Labatt

Patrick Labbe, Tim Hortons

Marie-Chantal Perron, Quaker

Veronique Cloutier, Suzuki

Normand Brathwaite, Reno Depot

Julie Deslauriers, Aero

Claude Meunier, Pepsi

Source: Télé du Québec, http://www.teleduquebec.ath.cx, February 2003