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Have you noticed as I have the increasing number of TV commercials that are dubbed?

Posted at 7:15 am

For a while now, I’ve had the weird, nasty feeling of going back to the ’60s, when a lot of commercials suffered from word-lip-synchronization.

Nowadays, if you pay attention, you will notice that dubbing methods have become very sophisticated. We envisioned concepts early on where the dub portions are minimal and subtle. The characters that appear on the screen are usually aloof.

Two or three duplicate sentences, a narrative voice at the end of the message, and voila!

To validate this observation, I called Jean-Jacques Stréliski, an associate professor in the marketing department at HEC Montreal. After three seconds, this advertising specialist confirmed it for me.

“You are not wrong. It is an effect of globalization and standardization of both advertising and production. The reason is clear: it is a matter of savings. »

The enormous fragmentation of advertising distribution channels, in all its forms, forces advertisers to make decisions. To ensure a strong presence for their advertisers, especially on the web, agencies must reduce budgets, including that used to create original campaigns for more specific markets, such as Quebec.

It should be noted that production costs for an original television campaign in Quebec (not including media location) can range from $1 million to $2 million, sometimes more, depending on the number of messages to be produced, the complexity of the filming and the talents that are hired (if a big star is chosen as a spokesperson, the costs will be higher).

It should not be thought that only Quebec is affected by this phenomenon of standardization. These advertising campaigns, created in New York, London, Amsterdam or Toronto, are broadcast “turnkey” in several countries by hiring a few local actors who come to the studio to flatter their voices.

The designers of these “standard” messages show some ingenuity in addressing all audiences. Jean-Jacques Stréliski took time to observe these details. “The thing is subtle. We make foundry with people who are not too typical. Sometimes it’s hard to tell from clothing or haircuts whether the characters are American, English-speaking Canadian or Quebecois. »

Does this strong presence of dubbed TV ads mean that Quebec viewers will be entitled to fewer messages that speak to them in the colors of their language and culture? I’m thinking of the recent Maxi campaigns with Martin Matte or Familiprix and its famous “Ay! Say oh! “.

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

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 several channels. Concepts made here, there are many. They are distributed differently. »

Anik St-Onge, professor of marketing at the Université du Québec à Montréal School of Management Sciences (ESG UQAM), also agrees. “We will see fewer original campaigns on television, but if you notice, we continue to play with the strings of Quebecers on the radio and on the screen, and especially on the web with content marketing. This is now where the creative aspect is strongest. »

Every year, A2C manages the Idéa contest, which brings together Quebec’s advertising creations in six categories. Last year, no less than 400 projects were awarded.

Still, the medium of television remains synonymous with “public space.” Pascal Routhier, head of strategy at the Rethink agency, likes to use the analogy of “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. If you cease to exist “on stage”, it is more difficult to interfere in popular culture. »

Obviously, we can wonder about the effect of these “standardized” messages on consumers. Do they have the same impact as a concept developed here and meant to speak to people here? “What characterizes good advertising is the way it plays on our emotions,” explains Anik St-Onge. However, these tailored campaigns rarely achieve this goal. It becomes so neutral that you no longer notice them. »

Anik St-Onge is absolutely right. This way of doing things provides an effect that I would call a “Sears catalog.” We are faced with smooth, ordinary and matte concepts.

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

It has to be said, good funny or moving commercials are part of the pleasure of the viewers. As we prepare to immerse ourselves in the famous television season, I invite you to do the exercise of submitting the barometer of your emotions to commercials, those that speak directly to you and those that try to seduce you artificially.

After all, advertising has essentially the same goal: to make us spend. It would be the least you could do to ask us by looking into our eyes.

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