It came from Montreal! Campaign aims to attract talent to VFX, gaming

Who: Montréal International, with BLVD MTL (Rodeo FX).

What: “We are Montreal: Get in the game,” a new awareness and talent recruitment campaign showing the depth and breadth of the city’s animation, VFX and video game expertise. The 60-second spot was made with assistance from 18 of the city’s approximately 235 VFX/animation and gaming studios.

When & Where: The video debuted on Monday, coinciding with the post-Oscars buzz (if such a thing exists after that wet noodle of a telecast). It will run in markets catering to the VFX and video game industry, such as North America’s west coast, London and Asia.

Why: It is supporting Montréal International’s mandate to attract foreign direct investment, international organizations and entrepreneurs, as well as professional talent and students to the Montreal region.

“[It’s saying] if you want to work on a great project, consider Montreal,” said Montréal International president and CEO Stéphane Paquet. “One of the lines that’s not said [but implied] in that video is ‘You are talented, and here are a bunch of people who are also quite talented.'”

Montreal employs nearly 20,000 people in the gaming and VFX/animation industries, and both industries continue to experience rapid growth. According to KPMG research, the number of people employed in the city’s VFX/animation industries grew 28% in the past decade, while the number of employees in gaming studios grew 8%. More than 225 visual effects and animation projects were completed in Quebec in 2019, and Montreal is the Canadian leader in visual effects jobs, as well as the country’s leading game production centre.

How: The ad showcases a selection of famous made-in-Montreal gaming/VFX creations, headlined by Ezio Auditore—the lead character in Ubisoft Montreal’s hugely successful video game franchise, Assassin’s Creed.

The ad follows Ezio as he rides a bike past Montreal landmarks including Olympic Stadium and the Leonard Cohen mural, while crossing paths with other famous made-in-Montreal creations including the Batgirl character from the upcoming Gotham Knight video game, Scooby Doo and a brachiosaurus from the Jurassic Park franchise.

The spot concludes with Ezio sitting at a computer and watching Montreal companies’ contributions to movies and TV shows including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Blade Runner 2049, Stranger Things and 1917, as well as gaming titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Fortnite.

“The whole idea was to take characters that are very well known by viewers or gamers and put them in a Montreal context,” said Paquet. “We said ‘What can we do to pay tribute to the existing talent in Montreal, but also send a message to qualified workers and students abroad about some of the things happening here?”

The ad drives to a dedicated landing page that outlines the scope of the city’s VFX and gaming expertise, and provides an overview of the creations featured in the video and the companies behind them.

What is Montréal International: Established in 1996, Montréal International is a non-profit financed by the private and public sector. It is part of a broader entity called the Consider Canada City Alliance, a coalition of 12 Canadian cities working to create a globally competitive national economy based on the collective strength of each member’s ecosystem. Montréal International claims to have contributed to attracting more than $18 billion in direct foreign investment for projects leading to the creation or maintenance of 71,000 jobs.

And we quote: “Above all else, Montréal’s strength is its talent. Today, we would like to bring them out of the shadows. We would also like to raise the profile of Montréal’s technological and creative industries, which are creating masterpieces and extremely cutting-edge projects. We are thus sending a clear message to foreign investors and international talent: Montréal is where it’s at.” — Stéphane Paquet, president and CEO, Montréal International

Chris Powell