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Mark Pacinda: How do you say ‘Boston Pizza' in French?

 

BERTRAND MAROTTE

Globe and Mail Update

November 16, 2007 at 6:19 PM EST

 

When Boston Pizza International Inc. decided it wanted to crack the Quebec market four years ago, the B.C.-based chain's executive team was warned by industry veterans that they shouldn't even bother.

 

Outsiders have had a notoriously tough time winning over Quebec consumers, and the eatery business is particularly difficult, given the sometimes puzzling culinary preferences of the francophone majority, they were told.

 

No doubt about it, La Belle Province presents its own challenges as an island of predominantly French language and culture in North America.

 

THE LANDSCAPE

 

Companies keen on making a foray into Quebec with their product or service need to be alert to the differences and respect the predominance of the French language.

 

To cite one recent case of what can happen when you fail to heed Québécois sensibilities: Coffee chain Second Cup sparked public protests and complaints last month when it dropped from some of its signs the two French words – “Les cafés” – that appeared before its English name.

 

BOSTON PIZZA'S ENTRÉE

 

Boston Pizza president Mark Pacinda decided his company was ready to expand into Quebec, but not before it built a credible base in the province.

 

The results so far indicate that the bet on Quebec is a winner. After just 21/2 years, Boston Pizza will have 24 restaurants in the province by the end of the year and is on track to have 50 by 2010.

 

The chain boasts more than 280 Canadian locations and sales last year of $647-million.

 

“We really took our time going in,” Mr. Pacinda says. “The first thing is that we wanted a Quebec team on the ground.”

 

A separate regional head office for Quebec was opened in the Montreal suburb of Laval 18 months before the first outlet was opened, in 2004.

 

Quebec City native Wayne Shanahan was hired to spearhead the Quebec strategy.

 

GOING QUÉBÉCOIS

 

Once the button on a Quebec launch was pressed, no detail was overlooked. For example, research was conducted into whether a French version of the brand name was warranted. “There's obviously no translation for Boston or for Pizza and we decided the name as it is would work,” Mr. Pacinda said.

 

A key discovery was that Quebeckers want to have the option of a multicourse lunch, not just the more packaged “combo plate” offering.

 

“They want a ‘table d'hôte,' in other words an entrée, a salad and desert,” he said.

 

Also, because wine has more of presence in the province than in the rest of the country, Boston Pizza's wine list in Quebec was expanded from the standard eight choices to 25 labels, Mr. Shanahan says.

 

The fine-tuning was even extended to the pizza pie: In Quebec, the cheese goes on as a final layer, not underneath the toppings. The Boston Pizza version was dubbed “La Québécoise Boston.”

 

And two Quebec standards – poutine and sugar pie – were included on the menu.

 

LE FRANÇAIS, TOUJOURS LE FRANÇAIS

 

Making sure that all business is conducted in French was also important, Mr. Shanahan said.

 

Many companies that move into Quebec, and even some local anglophone firms, don't bother to ensure that legal and business paperwork, and even day-to-day communications, are in French, he said.

 

“What you want to do is essentially be a francophone company.”

 

In another first for Boston Pizza, a local advertising agency was hired.

 

A separate ad campaign was created, including billboards that displayed a Quebec vanity licence plate with the words “Boston, QC” on it.

 

LESSONS LEARNED

 

Boston Pizza's carefully plotted wooing of the Quebec market is a strategy increasingly practised by retailers eager to make inroads in the province or consolidate their position.

 

Wal-Mart Canada Corp., for example, went on the offensive in the wake of the outcry over its decision two years ago to shut its Jonquière store after it became the first outlet in North America to be unionized. Wal-Mart insisted the closing was because the store wasn't meeting its financial targets.

 

The retail behemoth nonetheless was portrayed as a cold corporate outsider that cared not a whit about Quebec society.

 

A “Buy Quebec” campaign was launched last year, aimed at sourcing more homegrown products and groceries while playing to the province's regional tastes and local pride.

 

Outfits like Boston Pizza and Wal-Mart will obviously never be known as true Québécois companies.

 

But as Normand Turgeon, a marketing professor at the business school HEC-Montréal, wryly notes: “If you're going to be a bottle blond, you're better off choosing the right shade.”

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je ne suis pas un fan de leur cuisine après y avoir été quelques fois mais au moins, ils ont compris. Ça me fait penser à PepsiCo. qui avait compris qu'ici les publicités traduites, ça ne fonctionne pas ce qui a donné les chef d'œuvres de Claude Meunier dans les années 80 et 90.

 

Boston Pizza a compris que c'est pas juste une question de nom en français, c'est aussi un service Québécois. Bon article qui je pensais avec un titre comme "How do you say ‘Boston Pizza' in French?" serait du Québec Bashing.

 

Merci de partager.

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Tout à fait d'accord avec Cataclaw (je pensais pas qu'un jour je dirais ça !!) !! Two thumps up to quote Siskel & Ebert !! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Selon moi deux aspects positifs à cet article : tout d'abord, le fait que ce soit publié dans un des plus importants quotidiens anglophones du pays et, en second lieu l'essence-même de l'article qui j'espère inspirera d'autres entreprises canadiennes à traiter le marché québécois comme il se doit. C'est peut-être un peu plus compliqué, un peu plus long mais c'est aussi un gage de succès.En conclusion, Mark Pacinda a tout simplement agit en président responsable.

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The fine-tuning was even extended to the pizza pie: In Quebec, the cheese goes on as a final layer, not underneath the toppings. The Boston Pizza version was dubbed “La Québécoise Boston.”

 

La Québécoise Boston est sans aucun doute leur meilleure. Et une fois de plus, bravo de comprendre que le Québec est différent, bravo de comprendre que le français nous tient à cœur et surtout, bravo de respecter notre différence.

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Ça fait de bien de voir des entreprises qui se rendent compte que le Québec n'est pas simplement une version française du Canada mais bien une culture propre à part entière. Les entreprises qui comprendront ce fait et qui s'y adapteront auront du succès, les autres vont se casser les dents au Québec.

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