Montreal focuses on island life for 2021 tourism campaign

Who: Tourisme Montréal, with lg2 and Touché! for media.

What: “Your 2021 Island Getaway,” a new tourism campaign targeting Quebec and Ontario residents that uses language, music and visuals more consistent with those of a tropical island destination than a major Canadian city.

When & Where: The campaign is running now in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, with media including wild postings, digital video, social media and content on the site. Tourismé Montreal also partnered with clothing brand Le Cartel to create a pair of summer T-shirts that pay tribute to the city.

Why: The campaign comes as tourism authorities across the country (and around the world) try to jumpstart their local industry after the devastating impact of Covid.

Last year, Tourism Montreal announced that it had shattered previous record lows for entries at Quebec borders, tourist traffic and spending, and hotel occupancy, as the industry ground to a halt.

How: The creative positions Montreal as a unique island getaway (complete with Caribbean-sounding music and announcer) where visitors can hike an ancient volcano (actually Mount Royal), taste “unique island flavours,” or surf the waves on the St. Lawrence River. “Which island were you expecting?” asks the closing voiceover.

“We highlighted everything that is island-like about Montreal using typical sun destination lines and beauty shots,” said Marilou Aubin, lg2’s vice-president, creative director. “We especially wanted to convince Ontarians that Montreal is the closest ‘exotic’ destination.”

With cross-border travel unlikely to be a major factor in tourism this year, Tourisme Montréal is also adopting an approach it tried last year—targeting native Montrealers with an initiative called “Explore the 4 corners of your island.” It is highlighted by a tourist map of the island of Montreal created by local illustrator Myriam Wares. Another component, “The heart of the island,” focuses on downtown Montreal, with the participation of various partners such as the cultural district, Quartier des spectacles.

And we quote: “The campaign presents a snapshot of everything that defines Montreal and makes it a unique destination, but with an added twist: It’s an island… It’s the first time we’ve focused on the city’s island side in our communications, and the message is already a big hit in our target markets.” — Emmanuelle Legault, vice-president, marketing and strategy, Tourisme Montréal

Chris Powell