Montreal’s Village releases a manifesto for inclusivity

Who: The Société de développement commercial (SDC) du Village (Village Montréal), with lg2.

What: “Welcome to the Village, Montreal’s Inclusive district,” new advertising about the recent rebranding of the Montreal neighbourhood once known as the Gay Village to simply the Village.

When & Where: The rebranding was introduced last year, but the 90-second video ad was just released this week. There is some paid social behind it, and it’s been shared through the Village’s owned social channels.

Why: SDC worked with lg2 to create a new brand identity for the community that was more inclusive and representative of the entire 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum. Part of that process saw the Village become “the first district in the world to officially identify itself as an inclusive district,”  Alexandra Laverdière, partner and general manager at lg2’s Quebec City office, told The Message.

“Our collaboration with lg2 has allowed us to position ourselves as a true mecca for diversity, equity and inclusion,” said JP Loignon, chairman of the board of directors for Village Montréal, in a release introducing the new spot. “It’s an invitation to those who feel they belong to the Village to come and make it their own.”

The agency did the branding and digital platform, and now is bringing it to life with the new video.

How: The 90-second video is a manifesto delivered by Scot Farley, an actor from Montreal’s 2SLGBTQ+ community. The ad opens with a close-up on two men kissing, and the equal sign appears in front of them.

“Is everyone equal in the village?” asks Farley as the inclusive “Progress Pride Flag” appears on screen. Farley goes on to ask other questions about diversity and identity in what was the Gay Village. “Equality hasn’t always been our reality, but it can be our neighbourhood,” he says. The rest of the spot focuses on how the village will be a truly inclusive place where everyone feels equal, while a montage of 17 different members of the 2SLGBTQ+ dance, pose and stare defiantly into the camera.

“This video calls for inclusion, whether it be gender identity, sexual identity, or cultural identity,” said Laverdière. “The Village had already begun the transition to inclusivity by removing ‘gay’ from its name to be more representative. This is the reason for the inclusive flag, which incorporates the colours of the trans and visible minority flags.”

What makes the ad so unique is that it is coming from a business development group, said Laverdière. “To put forward its commitment in such a concrete way is quite innovative for this type of advertiser,” she said. “Secondly, the approach is very transparent: it addresses both the negative issues and the pride of being part of the district.”

And we quote: “The unveiling of this video manifesto, a new kind of advertising campaign… allows us to send a strong message that the Village is a place of inclusion, boldness and caring for all.” —JP Loignon, chairman of the board of directors, Village Montréal

David Brown