Once again, a Montréal delegation of advertisers and innovators is travelling to New York City to be a part of the 8th annual Advertising Week. Over three years ago, Montréal’s advertising community represented by its leading agency advertising association, AAPQ headed by Yanik Deschênes, launched an initiative called YUL-Lab ago to present Montréal, Québec’s metropolis and Canada’s second largest city, as a creative incubator for advertisers wanting to reach different clienteles with diverse cultural components.
Montréal’s predominantly French-speaking majority population, blending with its thriving English-speaking community and diverse cultural communities, provides a unique setting for announcers wanting to test and develop creative ideas to reach new markets.
This visit to New York is more than presenting Montréal’s potential. It is also a belief that Montréal’s advertising and creative community sees the U.S. market and New York City in particular as a source of inspiration as well as a challenge. At an opening event, hosted by Canada’s Consul General in New York John F. Prato, we were treated to a panel of Canadian and Québec-based creative entrepreneurs about the wisdom of being on the U.S. market.
Respected leaders from the creative community such as François de Gaspé Beaubien of Zoom Media, Paul Lavoie of Taxi, Joe Casale of Casale Media and Mark Sherman of Media Experts led the discussion on how creativity and entrepreneurship can be a two-way street. They explained their respective success and how they were able to leverage their Canadian experience for the U.S. market. It was heady stuff, win–win in every sense of the word.
Why is such an initiative important? Just like NYC, Montréal is a character city, a unique civic personality known to be an attraction to visitors, immigrants, creators and innovators. A brief stay in Montréal will attest to some of the characteristics associated with the great city of New York and to some extent, shared. Whether eating a pastrami sandwich at Katz, or a smoked meat at Montréal’s Schwartz or attending a concert at Lincoln Center or at Montréal’s emerging Quartier du Spectacle, or walking in Central Park or Mont Royal Park on a sunny Sunday, one gets a feel that we actually have much in common.
In the past two years, the Quebec government, through this office and emissary, former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Chretien, has been promoting a high speed link between Montréal and NYC. The argument is most compelling when you compare the current Adirondack voyage lasting over 11 hours. Yet, there is more than facilitating and accelerating the connection between these two great cities at stake. Both share a similar appetite and appreciation for cultural events, a belief in greater integration between their universities and the development of business initiatives, the strong conviction that diversity enhances the fabric of the city and that creativity and innovation are the catalysts to improving the quality of life and building for the future.
In New York City, some of my neighbors often refer to Montréal’s McGill University as Harvard of the North, a well deserved attribution for this great institution. But after spending two years here, I realize the importance of the link between Montréal and NYC and its potential. Who knows, someday we may have a new attribution – Montréal, the NYC of the North.