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April 17, 2009

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Having been on the client side here in Quebec for some national companies (operating usually out of T.O.), I can certainly attest to the fact that most do not do their homework when launching a product here or when expanding their business into Quebec.

I too have seen one too many companies reaching out to the Montreal branch of their agency network to design strategies for this market, only to conclude that Quebec is a ‘tough’ market to get into (probably because of poor strategies developed out of convenience). So although I totally agree that there is a significant necessity for Quebec-specific market intelligence and expertise, I also agree that (global) network agencies operating out of Montreal sometimes do a sub-par job because they are riding the wave of ‘international recognition and calibration’.

Hello Eric,

Thanks for the review.

I wish to point out three things:

1) I did mention quite clearly that I believe Quebec agencies have a great potential to do well in Canada and the rest of the world since they evolve in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and creative environment. I think that limiting Quebec agencies to the Quebec market does not maximize our potential. However, that does not mean we reject our roots. On the contrary, we believe they can help us extend our reach. You can be both a “citizen of the world” and be proud of your heritage and build on it.

2) I invited clients to be careful not the hire the first Québécois that shows up and pretends to be a so-called Québec specialist. I urged them to be as thorough as when they select an agency in Toronto. We all have seen clients hire terrible partners because they don’t really know the market and do not do their homework well enough. A decision to work with any agency, from any country or province, should always be based first and foremost an excellence, not on the language they speak.

3) The reason I did not want to talk about Québec when I was first approached is quite simple: it was a box I did not want to be limited to, especially when talking to Canadian executives. We have been extremely vocal about how our Quebec origins are helping us. Our press coverage in Europe and USA (see Advertising Age / Creativity, for example) shows that we always mention with great pride our Montréal origins. We have even created videos and a magazine that celebrate that (see www.sidlee.com).

JF Bouchard

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