I was 15 years old in 1976, when the Parti Québécois came to power. I was not politically engaged, but I was fascinated by the advertisements created in Quebec, often with a strong nationalist flavor.
I was one of those who already knew what field they wanted to pursue a career in. My interest in advertising was first linked to marketing and the business world, but it also aroused in me a curiosity for societal communication, and the way in which big brands draw on zeitgeist and the major trends of the moment in order to position itself in the minds of Quebecers.
It was at this time that Jacques Bouchard, the man we call the father of French-speaking advertising in Quebec, published his 36 heartstrings of Quebecers. I remember presenting an analysis of it in college. Mr. Bouchard was an advertising executive, sociologist, ethnographer and political strategist. And even though he was clearly a federalist, having worked on Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s campaigns, he knew how to stir the nationalist fiber in order to sell beer. It was his agency that created one of the most memorable advertising campaigns in Quebec for the Labatt 50.
Accompanied by unforgettable music composed by François Dompierre, this portrait of Quebec in the 1970s invited the 6 million Quebecers to get to know each other.
Quebec has changed a lot since then. The Labatt 50 is no longer what it used to be. And there are now 9 million Quebecers. Demographic growth which is primarily explained by immigration.
Yet, watching this campaign, almost 50 years later, it continues to arouse in me a sense of belonging and pride. She always thrills. But it is also striking for its images and testimonies which presented a white, French-speaking Quebec of native Quebecers. However, even in 1976, the true face of Quebec was not so homogeneous. According to the analyzes of Céline Le Bourdais and Victor Piché in their work Quebec demographics published in 2019, 79% of the 6,027,765 Quebecers in 1971 were of French ethnic origin, 10.6% British, and 10.4% were from ethnic groups other than British or French.
A message that is always relevant
Quebec today welcomes an average of 800 new arrivals per day1, and it is they who are largely responsible for the increase in the growth of Quebec’s population. This growth is essential to the prosperity and future of the Quebec nation.
Even if the face of Quebec has transformed, the message conveyed by the Labatt 50 remains as relevant as ever today.
There are 6 million of us, we need to talk to each other. Tell me what your name is. We are 6 million almost parents. There are 6 million of us, we need to talk to each other about the work of our hands, about what we will do tomorrow. There are 6 million of us, that’s a lot of people to know, we need to talk to each other.
Today there are 9 million of us and our names are also Ginette Taylor, Georges Khaled, Claude Carrier-Kowalski, Dorothy Désinor and An Nguyen.
Not only are there people to know, they are good people, as the delivery man in the beer ad says so well.
Advertisers know that “chez nous” and “here” are words with heavy meaning in Quebec. We should consider adding the word “together” to this list in order to emphasize not only the demographic evolution of Quebec, but also the importance of inclusion and unity in modern communication.
Who knows ? It is perhaps a beer advertisement that can once again make all Quebecers dream of a common future where everyone speaks and listens to each other.
1. Read “Quebec crosses the 9 million population mark”
What do you think ? Participate in the dialogue