Sponsorship scandal is about politics, not advertising

In recent weeks, Quebec and the rest of the country have been immersed in the Gomery Commission. While explosive revelations generate ratings for media, they unjustly tarnish the reputation the Quebec ad industry has earned through decades of professional service to both its private and public sector clients.

In recent weeks, Quebec and the rest of the country have been immersed in the Gomery Commission. While explosive revelations generate ratings for media, they unjustly tarnish the reputation the Quebec ad industry has earned through decades of professional service to both its private and public sector clients.

When the Commission hearings moved to Montreal, the Association of Quebec Advertising Agencies (AAPQ) put in place a strategy committee and communication plan to monitor testimony.

Our message has been consistent: The practices and governance procedures of the witnesses at the Gomery Commission in no way reflect those of the advertising industry in Quebec.

Integral to our plan was obtaining an Intervenor at the Commission. By being present at the hearings, the association has been able to intervene in order to clarify facts and to correct misleading perceptions. We also objected to the request for in-camera testimony and the tabling of the publication ban.

With the existing confusion between ‘companies that offer sponsorship or communication services’ and ‘advertising agencies,’ it’s evident that public perception of our industry has been altered.

How will future clients perceive ad agencies in Quebec? Will they elect to avoid local agencies? That would be the worst of all possible scenarios for the clients.

It is a well-documented fact that our consumers’ hot buttons differ from those of their Canadian compatriots. Quebec advertising agencies have amassed a wealth of specific knowledge and intelligence – not to mention creativity – that adds enormous value to market penetration strategies. Not only do Quebec advertising agencies play a vital role in linking outside clients to the cultural and social realities of the Québécois, but they are also fierce competitors and recognized for their creativity amongst the international advertising industry.

The Gomery Commission is actually shedding light on a political scandal, not an advertising industry issue. Up to now, those identified as having benefited unduly

from sponsorship money did so because of their political affiliations, not because of

their profession.

Yves St-Amand is the president and GM of the Association of Quebec Advertising Agencies. The association’s mission is to defend the industry’s interests with various organizations, governmental agencies, business groups and media, among other things.

Ed. note: Quebec agencies want to know how the sponsorship scandal has impacted their credibility among Canadian marketers outside the province. To provide answers, we hope you’ll participate in strategy’s online poll at http://www.strategymag.com/‘>www.strategymag.com.