Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Montreal style social marketing

In Montreal today for some soundtrack work on a TV spot, I was stopped by one of the few posters on St. Catherine Street that was actually safe for work:

The glare and the snow flurries you see are exactly how I saw it, too. And so at first I didn't notice anything unusual about it. But this being Montreal, I knew there had to be more to it. So I stopped and looked:

In case it's still hard to see, the phone cord is wrapped around his shoulder in the shape of a comforting hand. Okay, so you don't see many of those phones anymore, and it could come off a little creepy. But at least it's clever.

The big question is, are ads like this too clever? I stopped and looked because I'm an adman, and Montreal is French Canada's own Madison Avenue. I like to see what's up around town.

Clever visuals have been the bread and butter of Montreal (and Quebec) ads for some time now. The people I know from Quebec seem to enjoy decoding them. But then again, most of the Quebeckers I know are involved in my industry in one way or another.

Part of me wonders if this is an effective approach for reaching the severely depressed. Will they see it? Will they act on it? Someone needs to tell me, because I'm not from here. And I occasionally suspect that the competitiveness of the local industry might be outpacing the ability of the target markets to comprehend the messages.

I hope I'm wrong, though. Because it's kind of a neat ad. What do you think?


  1. I like it.

    I think the message needs to be subtle because it's not a message anybody thinks is for them, until they need it.

    Then, hopefully the subtlety and the feeling of comfort this ad evokes will make the thought to call an impulse and then an action. If it were too brash or overt, it might not instill the same level of confidence and security.

    Additionally, I don't think you reach the severely depressed with messages like these. People who are that close to the need are no longer paying attention. If they were, at least this image is recognizable--dark, distressed and alone. In psych we learned the single thing that turns people away from suicide help is the thought of "helpful" people. It's a private matter. The phone cord conveys the support while keeping the privacy.

    Who this campaign does reach are those who are beginning the decent, or friends and family of those who need the help. I think it's compelling. And even if you don't immediately see the phone cord, the message is clear and recognizable.

    I think it works. I hope it does.

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