Thursday, June 2, 2011

What the Hull? Outaouais tourism campaign baffles Americans (and me too!)

Steve Hall at Adrants writes, "Ever heard of Outaouais? Neither have we. And we still don't know where it is after watching this odd tourism ad for the place. Apparently it's in Canada somewhere. Where trains are invisible, roads go to Barcelona, waterfalls aren't famous, video games were inspired and the three largest conifer trees grow. Or something like that."

Outaouais Tourism from Bleublancrouge on Vimeo.

Mon Dieu!  My poor neighbours across the river!

But Steve makes a good point. What the hell was the point of this video, by BBR? To get people talking about the Western Quebec? Mission accomplished... sort of. Well, actually not at all.

Meanwhile, the French language version is actually quite funny, as well as featuring recognizable views of Hull (now known as Gatineau):

Tourisme Outaouais from Bleublancrouge on Vimeo.

(Note to Americans: That's not really Big Ben. It's the Peace Tower, part of Canada's Parliament buildings across the river in Ottawa. Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Canada is the country north of Detroit, where your "girlfriend" you met at that thing,  who never returned your Facebook friend request, lives.)

I really don't get why the English campaign had to use such generic outdoor shots, instead of real landmarks. Were they afraid we Anglos would be pissed off about the Peace Tower joke? And if they really wanted to show the Outaouais that would be amusing to Ottawans, they might have at least shown underage boys drinking quarts of 50 at a raunchy "tactile" strip club and called it "the National Ballet"...

Good writing and talent. I just don't get how it's supposed to draw tourists.


  1. I agree that the French ad works and the English one bombs.

    To pull off a self-deprecatory approach, your audience has to be familiar enough with you that they have formed preconceptions - that's why the French ad is so funny (someone from the rest of Quebec would think of a vacation in the Outaouais about as quickly as we'd think of a vacation in Brampton).

  2. Yep. Translation/adaptation FAIL. The French is stronger, for once. I think one of the lessons is to make sure that our French adaptations work as best they can, rather than have them just meet requirements.

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  4. As an Outaouais resident, I agree 100%. Yes your ads spark curiosity and entices people to at least Google the name of the area, but you simply can't base your whole ad on "inside jokes" when your audience is pan-canadian and international.

    The French version uses more recognizable landmarks and/or places that are familiar to the rest of Québec.

    Oooh the simple task of adapting ads to your target audience...


  6. Canada is south of Detroit. fun fact.

  7. Arrêtez dont de chialer ! Venez visitez la région pi après ca venez nous en parlez!