Target events

In Quebec, it's partly what you do, but more who you do it with.

In Quebec, it’s partly what you do, but more who you do it with.

Take Telus. The telecommunications giant with West Coast roots has been working to make inroads into the Quebec market for a handful of years now. One key strategy? Highly targeted event marketing that aligns the brand with such beloved cultural institutions as the Old Port of Montréal and the Formula One Grand Prix.

‘It’s not necessarily just the activities, but how it’s communicated that needs to be different,’ surmises Patrick Corneau, senior manager of events marketing and community investment at Telus. Corneau says for the partnerships to really work they have to touch the heart of people. ‘The secret to reaching Quebec consumers is showing that you care about the community,’ he says.

One example: In April Telus announced a partnership with the Old Port of Montreal, a scenic and heavily trafficked spot visited by about six million people a year. From a technical standpoint, the deal means that all the payphones in the area as well as the Internet infrastructure will be powered by the company. But the cultural standpoint is where the brand will likely score the most points.

‘Fire and Ice’ is a new annual family winter event combining ice skating and fireworks that takes place at the port in the weeks leading up to Christmas. ‘It’s dedicated to the families of the Montreal area,’ Corneau says, and helps convey the brand’s goal of not only being a big, national company, but one capable of ‘giving back’ with events designed uniquely with Quebecers in mind.

‘There’s always a product and service message component, because like any brand, you want to communicate what you do,’ says Jonathan Singer, who runs his own Montreal-based experiential marketing agency and has worked with Telus for two years now planning and strategizing its events. ‘But once that message is defined, we bring it to life in a way that has cultural relevance.’

So in the birthplace of Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve, where racing is a pretty big deal, for the fourth consecutive year Telus has signed on to be one of the biggest sponsors of the Formula One’s Grand Prix.

While the details for this summer’s incarnation are still being ironed out, Singer is promising a slew of events, most notably a Telus ‘oasis’ where spectators can take a break from the heat, crowd and noise. Of course, the technology will be showcased, he says, but in an unobtrusive way so that when that potential consumer walks away from the event and eventually into a cellphone store, he remembers that eventful Telus ‘experience.’

The numbers don’t lie

Loto-Québec has crunched the numbers that prove the Telus strategy – and of course its own: Targeting events in La Belle Province works. According to a 2004 Ipsos Descarie poll of over 1,000 Quebecers:

* 62% feel favourably about sponsorship of popular festivals events as a form of communication, over TV, P-O-P, radio and billboard advertising, in that order

* 73% feel positively about event sponsorship. They consider it a means to sustain events, have companies contribute to communities and a decent way for companies to spend their profits

* 55% support companies that sponsor events they like

* 65% feel popular events stimulate their pride in being a Quebecer