Thumbs down for the new Quebec slogan

Thumbs down for the new Quebec slogan

In the last few days Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and his team at City Hall unveiled the new slogan for Quebec City.

I saw the new logo and wording and was instantly disappointed. I sat on it for a while, I really wanted to let this go, but can’t keep quiet any longer.

I read Marianne White’s piece in last Thursdays Journal de Québec on the subject.
There’s a cross section of (mainly supportive) views on the new slogan. And some dissenting voices.

I’ll add mine to the latter train of thought.

In a time of budget cuts and belt-tightening across the country, did we really need to spend money on a new message to the masses?
And if we did, what would it say and how would it be received here in Quebec City, across the province, and beyond?

If we did produce something, it would need to be punchy, speak out, and hit the nail right on the head wouldn’t it.

Thumbs_downErm, oh, erm. Oh my giddy aunt. What in the name of kittens almighty have they gone and done?

The slogan and design, I just don’t like it. At all.

To be fair to the firm hired to come up with something, they would always be up against it.

How do you speak effectively to the world about how good this place is? What language should the message come across in?

We can’t escape the fact that the majority of tourists and visitors here are not French speakers, or at least not first language French speakers anyway.
So I’m sure discussions did take place along the lines of ‘should we do something in English?’
My answer would, of course, have been a resounding yes.

I’ve spent far too much time now looking at the new Quebec City l’accent d’Amérique slogan, and from every conceiveable angle, and I simply can’t get my head around it.

I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean, nor what it is supposed to represent.

The accent on America, the American accent, Accenting America. Nope. No idea. Nothing. Could someone out there give me a steer? Anyone?

I think back to when I first moved here and even further back to around 2001 when I first began visiting Quebec province and Quebec City – this wonderful city I now feel fortunate enough to call my home. A city I care about deeply and want to see prosper.

I couldn’t speak a word of French then, apart from what I’d learned in school (and had completely forgotten) many years before.

If I’d have seen this logo and slogan then I’m confident in saying that my opinion then would have been as it is now.

I have absolutely no idea what the message is it is trying to portray.

I’ve been in Quebec City since early 2009 and my French is reasonable today, and certainly good enough to live here comfortably. So I’ve tried to look at this from a French perspective too. Et non, rien ne me vient à l’ésprit. Je trouve les mots et l’image insignifiants.

Quebec City, the region, and the province was, is, and always will be both proud and protective of its culture and French language.
I agree with and fully support that. But I don’t think the wider implications of what this slogan should represent have been thought through.

Tourist dollars are tourist dollars. Those dollars don’t have a language.

If someone is looking to visit somewhere in North America, we’d love them to come to our city and boost our economy.

At least translate the slogan, or come up with an English one to use alongside it or on it’s own depending on circumstances.

That in itself brings its own set of issues though, and I’m sure the marketing specialists at Hyundai are already working out how they can best use the city’s chosen social media hashtag #QCAccent to their advantage. After all, the Hyundai Accent is one of Canada’s top-selling cars. And the Hyundai car showroom owners and salespeople have just been given an early Christmas present.

In light of the new slogan perhaps the social media hashtag #QCAccident would be more relevant.

Quebec City is a French jewel in a North American Crown, let’s hope the powers that be at City Hall can somehow get that message across to those more used to communicating predominantly in English.

Please don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a few people from around the world have to say about it:

No matter what language a slogan is written in it should be easy to understand and have a clear welcoming message; and as a non French speaker Quebec City’s new “l’accent d’Amerique” doesn’t fulfil it’s purpose. It’s unclear what it means which instantly makes it forgettable, not a great start for a slogan.
Nick Harmer, Graphic Designer, United Kingdom

I dont like the slogan at all. I thought Quebec was a proudly Canadian city but from the slogan and with my non existent French it looks to me like they are trying to say something about America. I wouldn’t associate it at all with Quebec or Canada.
Richard Greenfield, Technical Manager, Johannesburg, South Africa

Sometimes people in Quebec spend so much time fighting for their language that they come to believe that others wish Quebec wasn’t so French but that is so far from the truth. As an English speaking American who lived in Quebec City for two years its French accent was what I loved about it. It’s not an accent of America so the slogan is confusing. beauté épique is more of the way I see Quebec. A slogan should make people who live there feel great and those that don’t want to come there. This one doesn’t do either. I sure miss the greatest little city in the world.
Herbert Goss, Writer and Quebec City fan, California, USA

I have to question how the new Quebec City slogan is promoting the city. As a non French Speaking Canadian resident the slogan speaks of American accents, there’s no mention of the culture or history that the region is so proud of.
Tracey Cowen, Children’s Services, Alberta 

As a regular visitor to Canada I find this pointless and misleading.
The America accent? Why? What does this have to do with Quebec or with Canada?
Derek Bird, Retired, United Kingdom

Quebec City, “La belle Vie / lle”
Their choice is very confusing. Nobody will ‘get it’.
It’s pathetic and probably cost a lot of our money.
Job Patstone, ESL Tutor, Quebec City (formerly of Alberta)

At first I liked the new slogan. It’s short, easily translated. But as I considered it, it made less sense. Does it make reference to a particular spoken accent in Quebec City? Is it a metaphor of the city’s location within ‘the Americas’? If you have to explain it, it needs more work.
Joanne Tremblay, IT Professional, Acadienne living in Quebec City

Having lived in the USA for a number of years now, I find the slogan used here somewhat contrary to my experiences.
The Canadians I have come across usually go to great lengths to set themselves apart from their American neighbours.
So to see this slogan claiming The accent of America seems to go against this.
Having travelled around the world I get that preserving your culture and heritage is important, but to the expense of confusing the majority of visitors that you’re trying to attract has a feel of fanatical stubbornness to it.
In fact thinking more on this and trying to fathom the intent behind the slogan is somewhat mind boggling.
This does not feel a welcoming gesture to entice me to travel to and peruse the delectable streets of Quebec City.
For me, this does the exact opposite.
Please make over the make over and make it quick.
Mark Waller, Michigan

For a region of Canada that proudly flaunts it’s French connections, how could they make reference to how their accents are akin to the Americans? Shame really, as I, being half German, half English am proud of my heritage and would not associate myself with any other country, unless I was fortunate enough to be naturalised having emigrated there.
Andrew Dennis, Senior Manager, United Kingdom

I don’t think this makes any sense to me. It is a bit confusing as well, it gives me more the impression like we’re talking about France rather than Canada – maybe because we are used to seeing slogans mainly in English.
Arberesha Krasniqi, Full-time mom, Kosovo

If I’m honest I haven’t got a clue what that’s supposed to mean.
What are they trying to tell us about Quebec City?
Sorry but it’s lost in translation.
Dale Hanley, Oilfield Worker, Alberta

Having worked with French Canadians and knowing how proud they are of their province, I am confused and bewildered as to why there’s a reference to America on the new Quebec City slogan. Very odd.
Jon Barnett, Business Manager, United Kingdom

I found the idea of “accent”, in a “flavour meaning” sense interesting. In the way that we, as well as any other minorities in an Americanised culture, have a different way of thinking. But, as for an international slogan, I am not sure it will be as catchy as if it was more related to Canada. Because lets face it the Mexican, Colombian and other South American communities have many more accent influences in the overall Amérique than we do!
Yvon Carrier, Engineering Manager, Rosemere 

This new slogan is very strange, containing a hidden obvious social comment that Quebec is not part of Canada.
What does it actually mean? “The American Accent?”, “The accent of America?”

Meme que je parle français, à mon avis je crois que cette phrase ne veut rien dire.
There is nothing in this slogan which identifies or glorifies the great qualities of one of Canada’s most historic cities.
Jim Sorbie, Security Consultant, Ontario

L’accent de l’Amérique???? Non, pas vraiment. Quel Amérique? Certainement pas celle du sud! Le nord Amérique … peut-être …. mais vous devrez faire compétition avec les Acadiens. Pas bien conçus ni originale.
Canadian citizen living in London, England (name and address supplied)

The biggest issue I have is to not get it translated. If the city truly wants to bring in tourism, then a French slogan just isolates the very tourists they are hoping to attract.
Jon Cooper, Government employee, Australia

La Ville de Québec…l’Accent d’Amérique (with a symbol mid-way between an accent aigu and an exclamation point) looks to me like a slogan made by Québécois for French-speaking Europeans.
     While any anglophone who has ever taken French should get the gist, it would not strike the same chord as it would for the French, Belgians or Swiss, where “Amérique” would well be understood as the continent(s) – not the country to the south of Canada (the “États-Unis” or “US”). The same can be said for French-speaking Quebeckers. For Anglos, who frequently use “America” to refer to the country, it is muddled.
     “Accent” plays in both English and French, something that punctuates (literally and figuratively), as well as a way of speaking. That latter meaning may play less well for many “Canadiens” – at least those who are embarrassed by their own accent. – but the majority has fortunately come around to being proud of their own particularities. I expect that the sense of punctuation would resonate with the continentals.
     What I hear from this slogan is “We are French! We are special!”, but without the exclamation points. A few years ago, the vast majority of tourists to la Vieille capitale were Français-de-France coming to see their former colony in America. I am not sure whether it is still true.
     This slogan – “l’Accent d’Amérique” – is no “I (heart) NY”. That one was genius. Evidently, the city paid $25,000. Compared to the payouts examined by the Gomery Commission (aka the “Sponsorship Scandal”), it is peanuts. Was the effort worth it? Time will tell.
Bill Russell, Musician, Toronto

As an Englishman who loves to visit France and who has been fortunate to visit Quebec, (I’d love to visit again!) the slogan is a complete miss.
I’m a ‘have a go hero’ as far as the French language is concerned. I did French at school, I am happy to wander around on holiday in France with a phrase book and French dictionary (a tactic I employed when visiting Quebec) and give it a crack.
     I cause chaos, but I have a go. People take pity on me, my attempts are rewarded (usually) with laughter and assistance – this is how we’re supposed to visit a foreign country as English speakers I think, to do any less would be disrespectful, however…
     Not only am I a ‘have a go hero’ as far a the French language is concerned, I also work in online marketing, so basically I ask what and for who is the logo / strap line designed?
     I know for a fact that there are 10,000’s of searches made every month on Google alone in English around the subject of visiting Quebec and holidays in the region, so I can only imagine the strap line and logo are aimed at attracting more French speakers to holiday in Quebec and not English speakers.
Had it have been aimed at English speakers, it would have been in English as well.
     Unfortunately as much as I’m prepared to ‘have a go’ speaking in French in France or Quebec whilst I’m there, it’s certainly not normal to type in French on my PC / Laptop or whatever when researching the area.
Tim Love, SEO Expert, United Kingdom
Tim Love Online Marketing Services

Not everyone seems to be against the new image, as you can see here there at least some positives, so let’s at least finish on those:

For me, the new slogan says ‘Quebec is welcoming but it doesn’t throw itself in front of you, it’s proud and it expects you to meet it halfway, in a sense.’
This French-language slogan that uses English cognates reflects that.

The actual accent can reflect a couple of different things…the Canadian French accent as opposed to Parisian French, the distinctive accent Quebecers have when they speak English or the accent anglos have when they come here and speak French.
Ruby Pratka, Journalist, Quebec City (originally from USA)

Interesting slogan…..I am interpreting “accent” in the English meaning, meaning a colourful complement….like a bright throw-pillow on a beige couch. North America is the beige, and Québec is the colourful, unique travel destination. Certainly, there are elements that insisted on a French only slogan, but the marketers (no dummies there), wanted something that Anglo-only tourists would be capable of interpreting. It may not be the best possible slogan, and not as catchy as “I love New York”, but I think it will serve their intended market well.
Glenn Sheils, IT Professional, Ontario (Ex-Québecer)

I think the new slogan is intelligent, modern, and young, all while perfectly blending the city’s culture and history. It reflects the changing nature of the term “Amérique” to refer to the continent – turning back to it’s original meaning – and works on the belief that people are connected and world-savvy enough to “get it”. It’s a bold and risky choice, for sure, but that’s a fine reflection of the current direction the city’s economy, culture, and people are taking.
Farnell Morisset, Law Student and Engineer, Montreal

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Andrew Greenfield

Andrew Greenfield moved to Quebec in 2009. He is part of the team responsible for the publishing company behind LifeinQuebec.com and Life in Québec Magazine. He has been involved with online and print media since 2001. He is passionate about cricket, is a qualified coach, and his real ambition is to start a cricket team in Quebec City – something he freely admits is probably beyond him. Follow him on Twitter @GreenfieldAndy

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