Publicis Montréal Feeds on “Pastagate”
March 08, 2013 | Caroline Fortin | Comments
The last days of February were hard for the Office québécois de la langue française (the enforcer of Quebec’s French language laws); it was widely condemned after it chastised Buonanotte, a chic Montreal eatery, for using Italian words such as “pasta,” “antipasta” and “carne” on its menu instead of the French equivalents. In a clever move, Publicis Montréal took the liberty of feeding on the so-called “Pastagate” and ended up proving that print media is far from dead.
“I was in my car when I heard [about Pastagate] on the radio, and I thought it was a joke,” said Nicolas Massey, vice-president and creative director at Publicis Montréal. “When I realised the seriousness of the matter, I had to speak out against it.”
So he thought of a simple concept – a print ad showing the French definition of ”pasta” as if it was taken out of a dictionary. He added Buonanotte’s logo at the bottom and went to meet its owners. “They had a blast and gave me the green light.” The ad was placed in daily newspapers and the weekly Voir.
Massey immediately started to get calls from radio, TV, print media outlets all around the province. “I spent an entire day giving interviews.”
For Massey, the buzz was proof that timing, humour and choosing the right media were indeed a winning combination. “People in our industry are often all about web and social media. And I agree that these platforms have their utility. But here, a simple idea, printed white on black, sparked a domino effect. So no, print is not dead. It’s just a matter of using the right media at the right moment.”
While the language office has since stopped pursuing Buonanotte, other restaurants have received visits in recent months. The brasserie Holder was asked to cover up a sign on a switch that said “on/off,” and an ”exit” sign at Joe Beef was also deemed problematic. Massey wants to meet the owners in the next few days to propose some concepts.
“You gotta surf the wave while it’s high,” he said, and even two weeks after Pastagate began, many Quebeckers are still talking about these ”ridicule” actions.