Nearly a year after Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge stepped down as spokesperson, Hyundai Canada announced this week that it will hire a replacement. This is Marilou, a multi-talented young lady, well known for her singing talents for cooking recipes through various publications called Trois Fosse Bar Jour. A successful entrepreneur, Marilou joins a growing list of women chosen by the automotive industry. Think Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin at Kia, Karine Vanasse at Nissan and Mariloupe Wolff at Chevrolet.
Hyundai clearly believes in the importance of a spokesperson. Especially in Quebec, market shares are very high compared to the rest of the country. It must be said that Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge has contributed through his advertisements to restore the image of the manufacturer that hired him in 2009. First, as a regional spokesperson, then to acquire pan-Canadian mandates. Alas, after more than twelve years of partnership with the Korean company, the English speaker nicknamed GLT is about to lose his lucrative contract hard, following a public statement about a controversial opinion about vaccination.
This paradox reminds us that hiring a spokesperson for a product is a very delicate process. Remember the contract between Véronique Cloutier and Suzuki that was about to be broken due to allegations against the father of the Quebec star. And, more recently, Marie-Pierre Morin was dropped by Buick, although it helped explode sales of Encore models in Quebec.
Naturally, car manufacturers and dealers all dream of a happy relationship with their spokesperson. As between Honda and Martin Matt, Mr. Lemay-Thiverge will also be under contract for 12 years (2001 to 2013). An association so prolific that some believe he still represents the brand ten years later. Andre-Philippe Gagnon under contract with GM, his famous “Ales Hop, Cascade! Or the red tag sale promoted to Toyota by Marie-Soleil Tougas.
However, in order to do this, each idea needs to be researched more intensively before an agreement is reached. Because beyond financial arrangements, which can represent a large portion of an artist’s annual income, there is a so-called risk factor. Everything that surrounds the possibility of corruption, directly or indirectly, is usually caused by skeletons in the closet. For example, the Volkswagen dealers who employed Joel Legend in the 90s must have been glad to have severed their alliance long before the incident at Parc Marie-Victorin. The same goes for Chrysler, who cut ties with Norman Brathwaite a few years before he crashed the Jacques-Cartier Bridge while intoxicated.
Chances are (if it’s a chance) that a second Marilou (this time without the P) wants Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge to answer in a spokesperson role. Now, if one does a great job at Chevrolet, the other is a good choice for me. A young woman who has been active in the art world for 15 years, from memory, has always been very transparent, both personally and professionally. In a place where electric vehicles are proliferating, it will breathe new life into a manufacturer in full transition. By the way, have you noticed that Mariloupe Volpe’s recent ads for Chevrolet are practically all electric vehicles? Another proof that the hiring of the other Marilou (without B) was no coincidence!
Although fascinated by automobiles and the way they are sold, I believe in the importance of an automotive contact in Quebec. Whether it’s just a voice (like Dan Bigras at Ram or Patrice Belanger at Toyota) or a collaboration associated with a product or brand. For example, I strongly believe that Mitsubishi dealerships should hire a spokesperson as part of the conversion process. The same goes for Mazda, long a favorite brand of Quebecers.
Admittedly, contracts with some spokespeople can be expensive. However, in a region like ours where translated English ads carry very little weight, the call for a more culturally engaged spokesperson makes a big impact. Cars sell out in the blink of an eye, even when demand outstrips supply. Because beyond the product being sold, there is the brand image. Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda and Ford are good at what works. Who will be the next artist to be hired by a car manufacturer? What will this constructor be? Challenges are open!
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