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A royal mess over financial institution branding on Montreal Canadiens jersey

The Montreal Canadiens lately introduced a brand new multi-year jersey partnership with RBC on the crew’s annual golf event. The addition of a patch on the crew’s jersey comes after the NHL allowed groups to promote promoting on their jerseys starting this upcoming season. The emblem will solely be featured on the Canadiens’ house jerseys at Bell Centre.

What may go flawed? Every part.

When main sponsors signal massive checks, it is often to extend their model’s visibility and reinforce constructive model associations. Subtle entrepreneurs additionally be certain that they do not simply splash their brand on signage, they construct in activation applications. RBC did simply that by promising to donate $20 to the Montreal Canadiens Youngsters’s Basis for each sport jersey offered with the RBC brand on the website of the crew’s official retailer.

This should have appeared like an ideal match when considered from the highest flooring of the Royal Financial institution Plaza in Toronto. Nonetheless, one of many world’s largest banks seems to have unwittingly induced an uproar in Quebec, and now finds itself on skinny ice.

The response to the announcement was swift, beginning with Greenpeace Quebec, who noticed a possibility to assault the financial institution as “the worst financial institution in Canada, the one which contributes probably the most to local weather change.”

It invited outraged followers to take motion: “We’re calling on followers who’re planning to purchase a jersey and asking them to color the RBC brand black. As a result of that is what this firm is doing, it is actually sullying the Sainte-Flanelle.”

Opinion within the press this week referred to the RBC brand as a stain of oil on a sacred place. Quebec handed a regulation that bans non secular symbols within the public service, however non secular symbols stay highly effective within the public’s creativeness — and there is nothing in Quebec with a extra dedicated group of followers than the Sainte-Flanelle, a nickname for the Canadiens which means “holy flannel .”

RBC additionally inadvertently stepped into the damaging minefield of id politics. Quebec is a nation the place symbols, together with manufacturers, are sometimes linked to nationalism. Many use a story about delight, “chez nous” and “ici” to sign their connections with Quebecers.

The transfer prompted upset followers to write down letters to the media and name into radio exhibits. One printed in La Presse inevitably made the controversy about language, dismayed that the financial institution’s identify be displayed in English.

Others have identified that the RBC brand is similar lion that tops the fountain in Trafalgar Sq. — one other signal of the anglicization of Quebec.

On the identical time, many argue that the crew’s new captain, Nick Suzuki, should study to talk French to be efficient. Even Coalition Avenir Québec Chief François Legault piped in, calling Suzki an “wonderful selection” who want now study the language.

I would not count on RBC to alter its brand for “Banque Royale” and tame the lion any time quickly, or to maneuver its brand to the shoulder as one other author proposed. The financial institution can select to experience this, and hope the controversy dies down. That is perhaps wishful pondering, nonetheless, because the very level of this sponsorship and the brand’s strategic placement is to get most visibility. Each house sport will likely be a reminder of RBC’s barbarian invasion.

RBC may study from one other controversy: Walmart’s choice in 2005 to close down its retailer in Jonquière, Que. after it voted to unionize. The backlash was fast and brutal. It took some time for the retailer to get well however it did so by implementing a “Purchase Quebec” program.

Years in the past, RBC was a beloved financial institution in Quebec largely on account of its profitable promoting that includes actor Jean Lapointe. Instances have modified, however with RBC’s immense sources, it might probably certainly dream up a approach to overcome this royal mess with actual actions and the best communications to amplify them.

Éric Blais is president of Headspace Advertising and marketing in Toronto. He’s a frequent commentator on political advertising and marketing.

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