How Bye Bye could become Quebec’s Super Bowl

December 29, 2016

Or why Quebecers have to watch lame commercials during their biggest TV event of the year.

Criticize it as we may, Quebecers love the annual Bye Bye sketch comedy special. Three million Quebecers, or one out of two francophones, spend New Year’s Eve glued to their TV screens, hungry for another scathing gag about their favourite politicians/scapegoats. Another million Quebecers watch the rebroadcasted program in the days that follow. That’s a total of nearly four million Quebecers. That’s huge.

So advertisers must look forward to this all year long! Advertising people probably can’t wait to seduce us with their fresh new concepts! Brands must be competing to out-do one another! Well, not so much… We’re still nowhere near Super Bowl-levels of hype, but for how much longer?

Super Bowl ads have become such an integral part of this can’t-miss football event that the average fan will make a run to the fridge during the actual game rather than during commercial breaks. It should be the same for Bye Bye.

So how to buck the trend? How can Bye Bye become a TV event, even during the commercial breaks? This year-end round-up could be the jolt that the Quebec ad industry needs, inspiring a rush for greater creativity, humour and emotions. But to do so, advertisers must become more ambitious and develop a hunger for profit; brands meanwhile, must better understand our local traditions, even if decisions are made in Toronto.

In defense, it is hard to invest in advertising for a Quebec market. Even for an audience of four million viewers, the production costs can be prohibitive. There’s a price to be paid for the cameras, director, actors, technicians, video editors and other resources needed to make the result not look like an old Au Bon Marché ad. To justify the expense, the message must also be relevant once the holiday tourtière has been devoured.

The other thing restricting an explosion of ads for Bye Bye is the timing. It airs on New Year’s Eve, when everyone is making resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, visit family more and… spend less, of course.

What complicates the situation for advertisers is that the broadcast happens a few days before everyone gets their holiday credit card bill. Hardly the best moment for brands selling consumer goods. If Bye Bye was broadcast on November 15, retailers would be climbing over one another.

The Super Bowl happens in early February. Advertisers can take advantage of consumers who are coming out of an austerity period. Brands selling consumer goods (beer, chips, candy, soda), as well as sports equipment manufacturers and carmakers voluntarily pay $5 million to have their ads aired during the championship game of the NFL season.

The fundamental difference between Bye Bye and the Super Bowl is that the Quebec TV industry is in better shape than its U.S. counterpart, and that advertisers have more options when it comes to creating buzz.

The audience for the last Bye Bye was nearly one and a half times that of the La voix finale (2.77 million viewers), its closest rival in terms of popularity. In comparison, the NFL championship game attracted 115 million Americans in 2015—that’s three times more than the 87th annual Oscars show, which ranked second. So it comes as no surprise that the producers of the Super Bowl can charge brands like Pepsi, Skittles and Doritos 2.5 times more money for a 30-second ad than the producers of Hollywood’s biggest night. In short, buying ads during a few popular Quebec programs is more economical than paying big bucks for Bye Bye.

But take heart, there is movement. During the last edition, two Quebec brands (Familiprix and Plaisirs Gastronomiques) took the opportunity to launch a new communications platform.

Also, Bye Bye sold all of its advertising slots by October, charging $50,000 for 30 seconds. So brands are waking up to the potential. Advertising on Bye Bye enables you to reach the equivalent of 3.5% of the Super Bowl audience for only 1% of the Super Bowl rates.

This article was originally published online in French on L’actualité

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