What better way to get noticed and tell your brand's story in Québec than to sign-up a celebrity? Quebeckers love them and celebrities have the potential to multiply the impact of your media investment. But times have changed and the thinking on how best to leverage the power of celebrity endorsers in Québec will need to evolve.
Québec superstar Martin Matte goes grocery shopping at Maxi
According to Guy St-Pierre, Vice-President of Loblaws-owned grocery retailer Maxi in Québec, the celebrity comic can help the retailer improve its reputation for freshness. With plans to spend $5MM over the next two years, the ad campaign builds on Maxi's strong association with low prices while stressing its renewed emphasis on freshness.
Maxi's competitor in Québec, Super C, also uses a well-known celebrity spokesperson. Guy Jodoin has been telling a similar story for almost two years with advertising claiming that Super C always has low prices, is always fully stocked and is always fresh - "toujours à bas prix, toujours en stock, toujours frais".
The two deep discount supermarkets were neck and neck in 2014 when we asked French-speaking Quebeckers where they grocery shopped most often.
It's not clear how Martin Matte will help Maxi differentiate itself from Super C. The bigger question however is whether or not Martin Matte can do for Maxi what he did for Honda fifteen years ago. Times have changed and we would argue that social media now requires a much more transparent approach to the partnership between brands and celebrities. As Lily Bradic wrote in Social Media Week last year, "the most effective celebrity endorsements are those who seem like they would be an authentic customer of the product or service that they promote, and enough so that fans and consumers genuinely believe this."
The celebrity better be a committed customer and brand loyalist. And it better be believable to those who are "friends" with that celebrity, at least on social media.
In closely-knit Québec, simply being believed to be an authentic customer of the product or service might no longer guarantee success. The celebrity better be a committed customer and brand loyalist. And it better be believable to those who are "friends" with that celebrity, at least on social media.
So far, Martin Matte has said little to his 700,000 followers about his love of shopping at Maxi other than thanking his fans for their kind words about the advertising.
Martin Matte and Honda in Québec
In 2001, after decades of making better cars, Honda faced growing competition in Canada from its Japanese, domestic and new Korean rivals. All had raised the bar on durability, reliability and overall quality, and were advertising aggressively to get a greater share of new-car sales. The problem for Civic was further complicated because the parent company decided to retire the ever-popular Civic hatchback in 2000. Civic sales and market share were quickly eroding. This led to mounting pressure from the Quebec dealer network to shake things up, and stop the migration of sales toward competing models.
Quebeckers love to laugh. So in 2001, the agency enlisted the talents of one of Quebec’s hottest young comedians, Martin Matte. He would deliver the story of Civic's exceptional fuel efficiency in a hilarious tongue-in-cheek way. You can read the full case study from the 2007 CASSIES.