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Have you noticed, like me, that more and more TV commercials are being dubbed?

Posted at 7:15am

For some time now, I’ve had the odd and uncomfortable feeling of going back to the 1960s, when many commercials suffered from a lack of lip-to-word synchronization.

If you pay attention today, you will find that dubbing methods have become very sophisticated. From the start, we envision concepts where the synchronization components are minimal and subtle. The characters that appear on screen are often distant.

Two or three double sentences, a narrating voice at the end of the message and voila!

To confirm this observation, I called Jean-Jacques Stréliski, associate professor in the marketing department at HEC Montreal. After three seconds, this advertising man confirmed this to me.

“You’re not wrong. It is an effect of the globalization and standardization of advertising and production. The reason is clear: it’s about saving. »

The massive fragmentation of distribution channels for advertising in all its forms is forcing advertisers to make choices. In order to ensure a strong presence for their advertisers, especially online, agencies have to reduce their budgets, including the budget used to create original campaigns for more specific markets like Quebec.

It should be noted that the production cost of an original television campaign in Quebec (excluding media placement) can range from $1 million to $2 million, sometimes more, depending on the number of messages to be produced, the complexity of the shoot, and the talent being hired (if a big star is chosen to speak, the cost will be higher).

It should not be assumed that only Quebec is affected by this standardization phenomenon. Created in New York, London, Amsterdam or Toronto, these advertising campaigns are broadcast “turnkey” in several countries by hiring some local actors who go to the studio to smooth their voices.

The designers of these “standard” messages show a certain resourcefulness when it comes to reaching all audiences. Jean-Jacques Streliski paused to observe these details. “The thing is subtle. we do Pour with people who are not too typical. It’s sometimes difficult to tell if the characters are American, English-speaking Canadian, or Quebecois from the dress or haircuts. »

Does this strong presence of dubbed TV advertising mean that Quebec viewers are entitled to fewer messages that speak to them with the colors of their language and their culture – I’m thinking of the recent maxi campaigns with Martin Matte or those of Familiprix and his famous ” Ah! Ha! “.

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

Dominique Villeneuve is President and CEO of the Association of Creative Communication Agencies (A2C). She believes in seeing things differently. “Quebec Creation is now multi-channel. There are many concepts that are made here. They are distributed differently. »

Anik St-Onge, Professor of Marketing at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG UQAM), agrees. “We will see less original campaigns on TV, but as you will notice, we continue to pull the strings of Quebecers on radio and on display, and particularly on the web, with content marketing. This is where the creative aspect is at its strongest. »

Every year, A2C organizes the Idéa competition, which brings together advertising creations from Quebec in six categories. No fewer than 400 projects received awards last year.

Nevertheless, the medium of television remains synonymous with “public space”. Pascal Routhier, Head of Strategy at agency Rethink, likes to use the analogy “stage” to talk about media like television and “behind the scenes” to refer to certain others. “This phenomenon has a negative impact on the health of brands,” he says. When you stop existing “on stage,” it’s harder to get involved in popular culture. »

We can, of course, wonder about the impact of these “standardized” messages on consumers. Do they have the same effect as a concept developed here that is intended to appeal to people here? “What makes good advertising is playing with our emotions,” explains Anik St-Onge. However, these custom campaigns rarely achieve this goal. It becomes so neutral that you no longer notice them. »

Anik St-Onge is absolutely right. This approach provides an effect that I would call a “Sears Catalog”. We are in front of smooth, ordinary and dull concepts.

“It’s not just a question of language, but of tone, of cultural references, of the complicit wink,” adds Pascal Routhier. How many ads in French sound hollow and generic? […] I think the big losers here are not the Quebecers, but rather the national or international brands that miss an opportunity to better communicate with the Quebecers. »

It has to be said, good funny or moving commercials are part of viewers’ enjoyment. As we prepare to immerse ourselves in the famous television season, I invite you to do the exercise of subjecting the barometer of your emotions to advertising, advertising that speaks directly to you and advertising that tries to artificially seduce you .

After all, advertising essentially has the same goal: to get us to buy. The least you could do would be to ask us by looking us in the eye.

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