How Montellier is trying to sparkle outside of Quebec

Breaking from an approach that focused on where it was sourced, the carbonated water brand is opting for a message about "balance" that ties it closer to consumer tastes.

Montellier CampaignMontellier is banking on the concept of “balance” in its storytelling, rather than its origin, as it continues to drive trial outside of Quebec.

Montellier is sourced from a natural underground spring 45 minutes outside of Quebec City, in Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, which has traditionally been the main focus of its marketing.

But the new creative approach instead uses competing descriptors – “smoothness that sparkles,” “calmness that’s invigorating” and “slowness that’s a rush” – through relatable everyday activities like playing in the snow or jumping off a dock. The underlying idea is that special moments in life are typically ones that are balanced.

The full 360-degree campaign – developed by Juniper Park\TBWA and its design arm Le Parc – is focused on TV, but also includes point-of-sale, digital, print, and social elements.

This is the first time Montellier worked with Juniper Park\TBWA on this large a scale, but had been in talks with the agency several years ago as part of ideation on a national strategic approach, before going in a different direction.

“Awareness in Quebec is very strong, versus the rest of Canada,” says Emilie Coulombe, sales director at Montellier, whose grandfather René launched the brand in 1984. “We’ve always had a focus on Montellier being a local product, sourced in Quebec, or Canadian.” And while it’s had national distribution for a few years with PepsiCo, it had struggled with brand awareness, before realizing that the “local” part of the messaging had perhaps failed to connect outside of the home province.

So the brand went back to Juniper\TBWA and challenged the agency to position Montellier differently, hence opting for a product quality and storytelling approach, rather than one that was so focused on geographical origin and being “proudly Canadian.”

The campaign is focused on TV, but also streaming to drive trial. There are also in-store point-of-sale elements like pallets and shelf talkers.

Coulombe tells strategy Montellier is experiencing strong growth in sparkling water during COVID, with consumers looking to treat themselves more at home, part of which includes buying beverages they like. It adds something fun and special to people’s mundane lives during lockdown, a “little treat that’s still healthy,” she says, and that its trial repeat rate has been strong.

When it comes to challenges, Coulombe says the brand has to battle the likes of big European players like Perrier and San Pellegrino in a category that continues to innovate, with new flavour-focused entrants like PepsiCo’s own Bubly and Coca-Cola’s Aha. But she says Montellier’s category differentiator is being a natural spring water, so it’s more than a flat water with carbonation added.

“We are very focused on the quality of the product,” she says, and is aimed at a consumer that values that attribute.

OMD handled the buy, and according to Coulombe it’s a higher ad spend for this effort, as befits a broadly reaching campaign.