The Trivago Guy, the dishevelled pitchman for the hotel booking website and Internet sensation has been described by the Globe and Mail’s Sarah Hampson as “a cottage guest who outstays his welcome. At every commercial break, it seemed, there he’d be in his unbuttoned rumpled shirt and beltless jeans, a middle-aged dude with a few days of stubble, pointing at little floating icons to explain the benefits of Trivago.”
In an apparent response to the critics and to keep the buzz going, the company announced a Trivago Guy makeover contest, with the winner receiving a five-day trip to Berlin and a chance to watch the next commercial featuring the new and improved Williams.
If you live in English Canada, you might not know that Trivago took a radically different creative approach for the French Québec market that, ironically, generated as much, if not more, buzz.
Instead of featuring 48-year-old American actor/musician Tim Williams, the television spot used in Québec features 24-year-old Emma Leth. In the spot originally aired in France, the model who lives in Copenhagen describes how Trivago helped her book her dream vacation in Venice.
Judging by the media reports and the chatter on social media, Quebeckers can’t take it anymore. The television buy’s frequency is just too much for many.
Some, including the head of planning for a large Quebec-based advertising agency, claim that this media strategy is “pre-historic and does not respect viewers” and that the reaction would have been different if the advertiser was more familiar like St-Hubert. Some observers write about a “violent” media buy. Others conclude that the problem with this heavy repetition is that Trivago is forever ingrained in our brains.
Good for Trivago if it is.
Kingstar Direct Media is reported to have planned and bought the media for this carpet bombing campaign. The firm, with clients such as Herbal Magic, Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer and Bowflex, knows a thing or two about getting their clients’ message across. “We connect product, brand and emotion with motivational messages that sell to build brands through the use of highly persuasive infomercials, commercials and DRTV advertising and direct marketing.”
Here’s a sample of Kingstar’s work.
They may not have expected the media buzz Trivago guy and Ms. Leth generated in Canada but that’s an awful lot of free media.
To be effective, advertising must break through to be recalled. It must be attributed to the brand. And it must communicate a motivating message. Some in the advertising research business will disagree but likeability is a bonus. Trivago’s advertising might irritate many but it likely got the first three requirements for effective advertising right. Many among those who can’t stand it anymore admit that they’ve visited the website and even used it to book a hotel stay.
Many in the advertising industry have been highly critical of this schlocky style of advertising and the intolerably high media weight. I too would rather watch the Cannes reel but I also know that a Brand Power spot for a denture cleaner sells an awful lot of the stuff and a tiresome jingle sells a lot of mattresses.
Our firm contributed to a recent report by eMarketer on French Canada titled "Using Digital Channels for Marketing in Québec".
The report is available on a subscription basis only but here are a few excerpts.
French-speaking Quebec is too big to ignore for national and international brands seeking relevance in Canada. Consumers in the province make up roughly one-quarter of Canada’s population, and three-quarters of Quebecers only speak French at home.
It’s an easy conclusion for a national or international brand to simply translate content for a local audience. But veterans of this playing field suggest it’s an issue broader than just mother tongue.
Language in social channels is particularly relevant, where customer interaction can be near instantaneous and viewed widely. A common issue among French speakers in Canada is the slow response of brands to customer issues raised in French, likely due to resource skimping related to language.
“Responses are slower in French from national brands than they are for local brands,” said Marie-Claude Ducas, a Quebec journalist and co-author of “Les médias sociaux en entreprise: Les comprendre, les utiliser et en tirer profit,” a business book on social media. “Slow responses, in any language, show less attention or care toward the customer, and this eventually turns an active client away.”
“Consumers in Quebec will reward brands that make a distinct and visible effort in tailoring their story to the Quebec market,” said Eric Blais, president of Headspace Marketing. The “visible” qualifier is especially germane to Quebec. “That’s the difference between a brand that’s acting as a tourist in the market, as opposed to a brand that looks and feels like it’s here to stay.”
In other words, context is as important as content.
Francophone digital habits
How do these general demographic realities translate to digital habits? Between 2008 and 2012, weekly time spent online among French internet users in Canada grew just 16%, or an average of 4% annually, compared with 46% among English speakers in Canada, or around 11% annually, according to a September 2013 report from MediaTechnology Monitor (MTM).
BBM Analytics data collected in fall 2013 confirmed the gap in time spent online. French-speaking adults in Canada 18 and older spent 16.1 hours weekly on the internet, about 18% less than total Canada-wide counterparts who spent 19.7 hours. The gap appears to be narrowing a bit; in 2010, the difference was roughly 20%.
Quebecers value original content specifically curated for them.They seek it out, consume it frequently, share it with friends, and continue to discuss it at length in a variety of forums.
Montréal’s La Presse is reporting today that the SAQ is exploring the feasibility of setting up shops in Québec grocery stores to sell champagne, vodka, rhum, and other spirits. The 1,500 sq.ft. space, which might be a stretch for retailers to accommodate, would offer between 400 and 500 products.
According to La Presse, the idea for this pilot project came from the Québec City suburb of Ancienne-Lorette where an SAQ branch had to be closed for renovation. The branch was temporary relocated in a nearby Loblaws store. Satisfaction rates reached 86% and traffic in that store increased. While representatives from the SAQ had much to say about their plan, those from Metro, IGA and Loblaws were more circumspect.
A recent Ipsos survey on behalf of RBC Insurance reveals that Quebeckers are least likely to consider other drivers using a cell phone while on the road (either to talk or text) an annoyance. 55% of Canadians consider this a ‘pet peeve’ while only 43% of Quebeckers with a driver’s licence think it’s an annoyance. Cell phone usage while driving tops the list of ‘pet peeves’.
Other annoyances (in order) include tailgating/following too closely, not indicating lane changes or turns, cutting drivers off, frequent braking for no reason, driving too slow, speeding, misuse of the passing lane (hogging the left lane), failing to yield fo merging traffic and pets on drivers lap.
Could this mean that cell phone usage while driving is less of a problem in Québec? Or are Quebeckers simply more tolerant or perhaps less aware of the risk? Hard to say.
Some related statistics
The number of cell phone subscribers in Canada rose from 100,000 to more than 27 million between 1987 and 2013. Almost three quarters of Canadian households indicated that they have a cell phone, and half of all phone calls made in Canada are now wireless.
Canadians also exchange approximately 270 million text messages and 2.2 million multimedia messages every day. (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association)
Offences related to cell phones and driving in Québec
Since July 1, 2008, 271,080 offences related to using a cell phone while driving have been entered on SAAQ records following notification of a conviction:
11,485 in 2008
42,617 in 2009
48,944 in 2010
56,730 in 2011
63,945 in 2012
(Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, Direction des études et des stratégies en sécurité routière, October 2013.)
Quebecers' perceptions of risk and behaviours
A survey conducted in November 2012 on behalf of the SAAQ revealed that:
99% of Quebecers consider that writing or reading a text message while driving is relatively or very dangerous;
18% of drivers who use a cell phone admit to sometimes texting while driving;
67% of drivers who text at the wheel stated that they were unable to keep themselves from reading the text message, even when they are driving;
35% of them cannot keep themselves from responding in this situation;
84% of Quebecers consider that talking on a cell phone while driving is relatively or very dangerous;
50% of drivers who use a cell phone admitted that they sometimes talk on a cell phone while driving;
18% of them do it quite or very often;
28% use mainly a hand-held device;
56% use a “hands-free” system;
Almost all respondents (97%) know that it is prohibited to use a hand-held cell phone while driving a vehicle.
The Québec government has been running a campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with cell phone usage while driving. The research report on the most recent campaign in 2013 suggest that awareness is not the main issue. Behaviour is the problem.
An excerpt from the report available in French only (a translation follows):
Quant aux messages textes, il arrive à 19 % des conducteurs qui utilisent un téléphone cellulaire de texter au volant. Cette habitude est étonnante quand on considère que presque 80 % de ces conducteurs reconnaissent que leur risque d’avoir un accident est accru lorsqu’ils textent, qu’au cours des 12 derniers mois, 30 % reconnaissent qu’il leur est arrivé de conduire de façon erratique dans ce contexte et 1 % a été impliqué dans un accident. Près d’un conducteur sur cinq qui texte en conduisant a été l’objet de comportements d’impatience à un feu rouge attribuables à leur utilisation de la messagerie texte au volant.
[19% of those using a cell phone use it to text while driving. A surprising fact considering that almost 80% of these drivers acknowledge the increased risk of an accident and that, in the past year, 30% say they drove erratically as a result and 1% were involved in an accident because of it. One in five say they made other drivers impatient while texting at a red light.]
Here’s one of the most recent TV spots urging drivers to teach people to wait for your answer. “It won’t kill you” to do so.
Each year the APCM (Québec’s association of marketing-communications professionals) recognizes the best marketing-communication strategies. This year, the Grand Prix winner is Kraft Dinner.
While the brand is also a symbol of popular culture in Québec, it had not been advertised in the province for the past ten years and sales were declining. Kraft and its agency, Taxi, developed a strategy and campaign to drive volume.
On the surface, Kraft Dinner is a tough sell in Québec. Quebeckers are passionate about food. In fact, our What Québec Wants study reveals that significantly more Quebeckers than Canadians in the ROC believe they have more discerning tastes in foods than most (40% in Québec compared to 28% in the ROC). They love to cook and are proud of the meals they prepare.
Rather than attempt to overcome negative perceptions of the brand as being over processed, the strategy leveraged a simple truth: despite its image, most Quebeckers like Kraft Dinner but they are embarrassed to say so and often feel guilty eating it.
This insight was dramatized in a cleverly executed integrated campaign.
Out-of-home posters showed consumers one would not expect to eat Kraft Dinner. Their identity was partly hidden by a box of Kraft Dinner. Among them was Dany Turcotte, the well-known co-host of the top rated talk show Tout le monde en parle. Product placement gave this campaign a major boost when Turcotte was presented with a bowl of KD during the show.
On television, a man is seen eating Kraft Dinner. He then switches his recycling bin containing the empty box of KD with his neighbour’s bin.
A transit shelter poster was fitted to distribute boxes of the product. You can see it in action via this short video presentation of the case (in French).
The campaign was meant to not only stop the declining sales but also increase them by 15% before the end of 2013. In three months, sales increased by 17.2%
This ad is appearing in consumer magazines in Québec such as Coup de Pouce. The headline claims that Quebeckers are the happiest people in Canada. The body copy goes on to ask if your glass is half full.
The ad seems to be part of an effort to communicate the idea of a “Silk pause bonheur” (a Silk happy break). In English, the brand delivers “happy facts” on its Facebook page (e.g. dancing can increase happiness).
There is nothing in the magazine ad to support the claim that Quebeckers are the happiest Canadians. And we couldn’t find supporting data on the brand’s website or on its Facebook page.
So here’s the “happy fact” from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards’ report on the determinants of the happiness of Canadians. (Canadians Are Happy and Getting Happier: An Overview of Life Satisfaction in Canada, 2003-2011)
The CSLS measures life satisfaction, the key measure of happiness.
Over the 2003-2011 period, Nova Scotia had the highest average per cent of the population reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with their life in general at 94.1 per cent, a level of satisfaction notably higher than all other jurisdictions. Quebec ranked second at 93.2 per cent, followed closely by Newfoundland and Labrador at 93.0 per cent. Life satisfaction was lowest in Nunavut at 90.6 per cent. Ontario ranked second lowest (91.0 per cent) and British Columbia third lowest (91.1 per cent).
Among the 36 CMAs (Census Metropolitan Areas) in Canada, Québec, Trois-Rivières, Peterborough, Ottawa-Gatineau (QC) and Saguenay had the five highest average percentages of the population reporting being satisfied with life in general in the 2003-to-2011 period (Chart 7). The average for the top five CMAs was 93.9 per cent, 3.3 percentage points higher than the average for the bottom five CMAs (90.6 per cent). The five CMAs with the lowest per cent of the population reporting being satisfied with their life in general were Winnipeg, Vancouver, Kitchener, Windsor and Toronto.
Whether or not drinking Silk Almond milk contributes to happiness has yet to be scientifically proven.
Matt Carmichael, the author of Buyographics, offers an interesting perspective on millennials and cars in the latest issue of Advertising Age.
“They have much less of a love affair with the car than previous generations did.”
PMB asked Canadians if they agree or disagree with the statement “I get quite attached to my car”. 29.2% of Canadians millennials (between the ages of 18 and 29) agree. Among millennials in Québec, the level of agreement climbs to 34.4%.
Among their parents (Canadians between the ages of 50 and 59), slightly more (32.5%) agree. That is not a major generational difference. It may well be that when these parents were in their twenties the love affair was stronger but we don't have data on this.
Carmichael advises automakers to “quit talking so much about miles-per-gallon - even though sustainability is important. Talk more about the social aspects. Show the people interacting each other, sharing experiences and sharing the road.”
No doubt that sociability and connectivity matter to the millennials. But don’t completely stop talking about fuel consumption, at least not in Québec.
25.4% of Canadian millennials living outside Québec agree with the statement “I refuse to buy a car that is not fuel efficient”. Among millennials in Québec, it’s 49.6%.
For an insightful look into millennials and cars, read Jeremy Cato’s article published in the Globe and Mail earlier this year.
According to Cato, “millennials, like their parents, will warm to car ownership when they have the money and the need. The real issue is the barriers young people face in entering the car market. Aside from the cost – for example, astronomical insurance rates – governments have implemented graduated licensing programs that have slowed the rate at which young drivers take the wheel. Thus, the love affair blossoms later.”
The sisters achieved instant celebrity status following their victories in Sochi. At press conferences and in interviews, the Dufour-Lapointe family was telling its amazing story to news media. That story included a brand which the media happily mentioned. Here’s how The Globe and Mail told it on February 9th:
Ms. Dufour described cramming her sleepy kids and their gear into the family Volkswagen on early weekend mornings to drive to the Laurentian mountains.
Thanks to smart thinking from Volkswagen, the story has a new chapter.
Moved by this family's story and proud of their Olympic and World Cup victories, Volkswagen decided to offer each of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters a car. And they had their pick of model: Chloé chose a Golf GTI, Justine a Beetle, and Maxime a Tiguan.
It was the sisters' parents who drove them around in the now-famous Jetta; in a way, it has become a symbol of their devotion. And so Volkswagen Canada thought the parents deserved a little recognition as well.
When VW presented the sisters their keys, it also surprised their mother, Johane, with a gift: a 2014 Jetta in blue, the same shade as the Jetta that has driven her daughters this far.
Here’s the video.
The story was also told by the family on Monday on Pénélop McQuade's popular show on Radio Canada. You can view the clip here.