It’s won more awards than most agencies get in a decade and now seems poised to break out of Quebec in a big way
The champagne was cold. The weather was warm. The agency was scorching hot.
Sitting on the beach in Cannes, surrounded by co-workers and colleagues from the Quebec advertising industry, all of them toasting LG2’s first ever Lion – a bronze in Film for Krispy Kernels’ “Couch” – Luc Du Sault remembers thinking he didn’t want the amazing ride of the past 18 months to end.
“We just toasted the win and said ‘Let’s keep up the good work,’” says the LG2 partner, vice-president and creative director. “It was a really special moment for us. We had a lot of highlights this year, but that one was special.”
By any measure of success, it was a champagne toast kind of year for the 21-year-old Montreal agency, adding new business like the Quebec Honda Dealers Association, the Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation, Country Style and fashion retailer Laura over the past 18 months.
Meanwhile, the staff count has grown from 154 people in August 2011 to 169 currently, while 2012 revenues are projected to grow 5%.
It added to Quebec’s burgeoning reputation as a creative hotbed through a combination of awards, industry recognition and a steady stream of thoughtful, exceptional – and occasionally quirky – work that went beyond traditional advertising parameters.
It was work that made LG2 a fixture on the awards show circuit this year. In addition to its bronze Lion, it was shortlisted 10 times at Cannes while also winning 50 Applied Arts awards, 24 Marketing Awards and 36 Créa awards (topping the list for the sixth straight year) and achieving recognition at everything from the Clios to the London International Awards.
Most gratifying for partner, VP, managing director Matthieu Roy is that the wins came for a diverse group of clients and in a broad range of disciplines, from digital to TV to print and out-of-home. “I think we’ve shifted from being an advertising agency… to a multidisciplinary agency that’s always been strong in advertising but is now playing highly in the digital space and in design,” he says.
The success of the “Couch” spot for Krispy Kernels, says Du Sault, is symbolic of the agency’s “Think like a brand. Act like a retailer” philosophy. A family-owned business, Krispy Kernels had never used TV advertising in its 65-year history, choosing instead to grow through in-store marketing and product innovation.
With the brand increasingly losing share to national brands, however, the decision was made to pursue a mass marketing strategy. Marketing director Renée-Maude Jalbert says she had followed LG2’s work for many years, and when it finally came to work for her, the chemistry between the two companies was instant. “They understood right away our needs and the reality of our business,” she says. “[They] are always professional and fun, but what makes them stand out from other agencies is that they are passionate about their work, and it’s contagious.”
Different but no less effective has been LG2’s work for Quebec-based credit union Desjardins, a client since 2003. Its long-running marketing platform that features actual clients helped Desjardins achieve unaided recall of 76% in both 2010 and 2011, while its 2011 profits increased 14.4% to $1.7 billion.
“It embodies completely who we are,” says Nathalie Lachance, VP, brand management and public relations for Desjardins. “It’s been so successful in terms of awareness and differentiation.”
This year also saw LG2 add key personnel in former Tribal DDB staffer Jason Chaney (who worked on the internationally renowned “Our food. Your questions.” work for McDonald’s) as VP strategy, along with former Palm + Havas creative director Stuart Macmillan and Jean Lafrenièr—who had spent 22 years at Cossette—as creative director and senior art director respectively.
The agency currently derives about 30% of its revenues from outside Quebec, but Roy says the hires of Chaney and Macmillan are part of a plan to expand the agency’s presence nationally, most notably in Toronto. (But no, he says, there is currently no timetable for expansion into English Canada.)
Shortly after that day in Cannes, the phone rang at LG2’s Montreal office. Sexy Hair, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of hair care products, was looking for an agency partner that could redesign its packaging and help with a brand refresh.
Combined with additional enquiries from B.C. and Alberta, it seemed to signal that LG2 was ready to take its place on the national stage and perhaps become a truly global agency. Roy is convinced it’s already happening. “We’ve shifted from a regional agency to an agency that can play on a global scale,” he says.
Those beach celebrations in the South of France just might become an annual tradition.