December 4, 2023

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Have you noticed the increasing number of dubbed TV commercials like mine?

Posted yesterday at 7:15 am

For a while I had a strange and unpleasant feeling going back to the 1960s when most commercials suffered from a lack of sync between lips and words.

Nowadays, if you pay attention, you will realize that the dubbing techniques are very refined. We envision early concepts where dubbing parts are minimal and subtle. On-screen characters are often distant.

Two or three double sentences, a narrative tone at the end of the message, and voila!

To confirm this observation, I called Jean-Jacques Strelisky, associate professor in HEC Montreal’s marketing department. Three seconds later, this advertising expert confirmed this to me.

“You are not mistaken. This is the effect of globalization and standardization of both advertising and production. The reason is clear: it is a question of savings. »

The enormous fragmentation of advertising distribution channels, in all its forms, forces advertisers to make choices. To ensure a strong presence for their advertisers, especially on the web, agencies must cut budgets, including those used to create original campaigns for specific markets like Quebec.

The production costs of an original television campaign in Quebec (not including media placement) can vary from 1 to 2 million dollars, sometimes depending on the number of messages to be produced, the complexity and complexity of the shooting. Talent is hired (if a big star is chosen as a representative, the costs will be high).

It should not be assumed that Quebec is the only one affected by this phenomenon of standardization. These advertising campaigns, created in New York, London, Amsterdam or Toronto, are broadcast in many countries as a “keyguard”, hiring some local actors who go to the studio and flatten their voices.

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The creators of these “authentic” messages display a certain ingenuity in addressing all audiences. Jean-Jacques Strelisky was slow to notice this detail. “The matter is subtle. We will make cast With people who are not very typical. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the characters are Americans, English-speaking Canadians, or Quebecers by clothing or haircuts. »

The strong presence of dubbing television ads means that Quebec viewers can get fewer messages that speak to them in their language and the colors of their culture – I’m thinking of Martin Matt or Familiaprix and the recent Maxi campaigns with its famous “Ah! Ha! “.

Jean-Jacques Strelisky believes there are still about “fifty” brands and companies in Quebec that can buy original television campaigns.

Dominique Villeneuve is President and CEO of the Association of Creative Communication Agencies (A2C). She believes in seeing things differently. “The creation of Quebec now goes through many channels. Concepts made here, there are many. They are distributed differently. »

Anik St-Onge, professor of marketing at the School of Management Sciences of the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG UQAM), shares this view. “We see fewer original campaigns on television, but as you can see, we continue to play on the strings of Quebecers on radio and in display and especially on the web with content marketing. This is where creativity is strongest now. »

Every year, A2C organizes the Idéa competition, which presents Quebec advertising creations in six categories. Last year, fewer than 400 projects were honored.

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Still, the medium of television is synonymous with “public space”. Pascal Routhier, head of strategy at Rethink Agency, likes to use the analogy of “stage” to talk about media like television and “behind the scenes” to refer to some others. “This phenomenon has a negative impact on the health of brands,” he says. If you cease to exist “on stage”, it is very difficult to intervene in popular culture. »

We can obviously wonder about the impact of these “authentic” messages on consumers. Do they have the same effect as the concept developed here and intended to speak to the people here? “The hallmark of good advertising is the way it plays with our emotions,” explains Anik Saint-Onge. However, these adaptive campaigns rarely succeed in this goal. It becomes so neutral that you don’t notice them anymore. »

Anik St-Onge is absolutely correct. Doing it this way is what I call the “Sears Catalog.” We find ourselves in front of soft, simple and mat concepts.

“It’s not just a question of language, but tone, cultural references, complex winks,” adds Pascal Routhier. How many statements in French sound hollow and generic? […] I think the biggest losers in this are not Quebecers, but national or international brands missing the opportunity to better communicate with Quebecers. »

It goes without saying that good funny or moving ads are part of the viewer’s enjoyment. As we prepare to enter the popular television season, I invite you to submit a barometer of your emotions to advertisements, to those who speak directly to you, and to those that attempt to artificially seduce you.

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After all, advertising essentially pursues the same goal: to get us to spend. The least you can do is look us in the eye and ask us.

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