Cossette veterans remember co-founder Bernard Paquet

Bernard Paquet, who helped establish the agency in 1972, passed away on July 11.


From left: Louis Larivière, Claude Lessard, Bernard Paquet, Paul Lefebvre, François Dufort, Fernand Simard, Jean Morin and (in front) Claude Cossette in 1978 (photo courtesy of Cossette). 

Bernard Paquet, who co-founded Cossette in 1972 and helped build the firm into one of the country’s largest and most decorated creative agencies, passed away in Saint-Raymond, Quebec on July 11 at the age of 72.

Paquet was among the group that relaunched Cossette, originally a graphic design firm founded by Claude Cossette in 1964, as Cossette Communication-Marketing in 1972. Along with Paquet, the partners included Claude Cossette, Louis Larivière, Claude Lessard, Paul Lefebvre and Fernand Simard.

Paquet joined the agency after studying graphic and interior design, and went on to serve in a business development capacity for 28 years.

“Beyond his professional achievements, we remember a man whose enthusiasm was contagious. Bernard had a positive outlook and saw opportunities everywhere,” write Lessard, now chairman of Cossette, and Pierre Delagrave, head of Vision7’s innovation group, in a letter commemorating him. “He knew how to build trusting relationships with his clients and colleagues, which no doubt explains why so many of them became his close friends over time.”

The pair note that Paquet played a fundamental role in bringing business to the firm, such as that of Quebec undergarment company Dominion Corset and supermarket chain Jato (later acquired by Provigo), at a time when it could not rely on its reputation in the industry. They say he helped win small assignments, such as designing the cover of the Bell phone book and promoting McDonald’s first restaurant in the area of Quebec City, which laid the groundwork for future major wins, among them the national McDonald’s account.

In 2000, Cossette became McDonald’s Canada sole Canadian agency – after having been its Quebec agency for 23 years – which “solidifie[d] its position as Canada’s biggest ad agency and [gave] it responsibility for all of McDonald’s advertising from coast to coast,” according to the Globe and Mail. The $50-million dollar account added to existing business with Bell Canada, Coca-Cola Beverages and Nike Canada.

“Bernard was an outstanding mentor and continued to guide young graduates even during his illness,” write Delagrave and Lessard. “He understood the importance of sharing his knowledge with today’s youth.”

According to their letter, Paquet was the “driving force” behind the establishment of the Institut des archives de la publicité, an archival project founded in 2016 and run by the University of Laval. Paquet had a role in seeing Cossette’s archives, as well as those of Lg2 and Claude Cossette, donated to the project, which strives to preserve the history of the industry by bringing together collections held in various archives, according to reports in Infopresse and Le Devoir. Delagrave will now lead the project in memory of Paquet.