Numerous team members had a role in the "Ma cabane à la maison" project. Here’s how each one’s talents were used in transforming a simple idea into hundreds of thousands of dishes... making their ways into Quebecers’ homes. This is the inside story of "Ma cabane."
Besides the goal of keeping sugar shacks alive and calling on people’s community spirit, we had to figure out how to get into Quebecers’ homes and hearts with an offer too good to pass up. We had to draw on what makes sugar shacks so special in Quebec—the history and heritage, the sense of family and tradition, the comfort and abundance, the joys of celebrations, humble get-togethers, childhood memories, and so much more.
We recreated the customer journey—a trip to a sugar shack with family or friends in normal times—then reproduced the same process for pandemic times (i.e., without the actual sugar shack visit), identifying communication channels, points of contact with consumers, the whole experience to be built from the ground up to offer something authentic.
Photographer and content creator
The mouthwatering decadence of the subject matter made photographing these timeless sugar shack classics in “lifestyle” mode a real blast. The shots were going to be used on multiple channels and had to look good enough to eat. And they had to represent at a glance the varied offerings of all 70 participating sugar shacks.
We also did some outdoor portraits of the artisans, often out in the woods, putting an authentic human touch on things and breaking up the parade of sugar shack beauty shots with pictures of these tireless entrepreneurs.
Since each “Home Sweet Home” kit included an exclusive show to watch, we had to capture that toe-tapping moment, too, but without breaking any public health rules. It was a piece of cake capturing how excited the artists were—they couldn’t wait to strut their stuff for Quebecers once again.
Artistic direction, branding
Creating the brand was a big challenge. First off, the new brand had to embody an experience that’s been anchored in Quebec family tradition since forever. Then it had to be inclusive enough to cover at least 70 individual sugar shacks, each a separate business with its own identity.
So we found powerful symbols of a sweet, sweet experience, a look of pure authenticity, and a palette based on warm, reassuring shades of brown. The graphic environment rallied Quebecers with its authentic touch and a dash of nostalgia to keep the home fires burning.
Artistic direction, brand implementation
Another challenge was that of bringing the "Ma cabane à la maison" visual identity to life in multiple contexts, on multiple supports (“Home Sweet Home” kits, print, website, social media content, promotional video, and so forth), and with so many stakeholders. It was made even harder by the tight turnaround times we had for creating so many consistent and authentic versions with so much going on at the same time (website, strategies, etc.).
With an evocative brand that appealed to all Quebecers, it could easily have made the mistake of going in all directions at once. Without the luxury of time, we knew the visual environment would have to be a work in progress. So we took the time to decide on a clear creative vision from the start, getting every aspect of the visual identity to pull its weight.
With that vision wrapped up and every graphic element there for a reason, we could see the best way forward creatively. We then got more reactive, and brand implementation fell right into place.
It’s one thing to establish the feel of a brand. Persuading people to recreate the sugar shack experience in their own home is something else altogether! From name to tagline and all the communications, we really enjoyed coming up with the right words to create a digital world as friendly and welcoming as the sugar shacks of Quebec.
The campaign to save Quebec sugar shacks rapidly became a lead news story, thanks in part to the press relations strategy we worked up jointly with Diane Jeannotte and Diep Truong. In addition to approaching the news from such angles as public affairs, consumption, and marketing, we simultaneously fuelled the national and regional media’s interest by providing spokespersons who were genuine and believable. Stéphanie Laurin, chair of the Association of Sugar Shacks and Sugar Bushes of Québec, was the standard-bearer at the provincial level, while other owners represented the campaign regionally. We then kept on feeding journalists quality content while building bridges between news and social media.
We needed to build trust with our sponsoring partners right from the get-go. Besides the challenge of giving everyone their fair share of visibility, we had to foster their sense of ownership of the "Ma cabane à la maison" brand. We also had to remind sponsors that they were part of something big—a wave of community spirit that was no mere business transaction.
Relationships like that called for reassurance through simple actions and constant support. In other words, a clear message delivered passionately, constant readiness to listen, strict followup of indicators, a willingness to work together to help them integrate "Ma cabane" into their own brand strategy, and speaking in one voice, no matter which of us our partners interacted with. Bottom line—to be rigid about where we were going but flexible about how we got there.
For social media, we had to build a new community from the ground up with posts that spurred engagement. We concentrated our efforts in three areas: education, customer experience, and community spirit.
As an entirely unknown entity, we relied on partner influencers to spread the word about "Ma cabane à la maison". Some appealed more to families, others more to young professionals. A big thank-you to our influencers: Jaime Damak (@jesuisunemaman), Sarah Babineau (@kara_bino), Laurie Côté (@lauriedouceur), Ève Martel (@evemartel_blogue), and Véronique Harvey (@la_journaliste).
How about the premier of Quebec and prime minister of Canada posting pictures of themselves on Facebook with a fabulous “Home Sweet Home” kits?
We had the pleasure of working with a team that immediately understood the challenges of developing the new website. Our launch date was carved in stone and we were putting together the new website, developing the brand, the graphics platform, and our strategies all at the same time. We all knew that if any step got held up, the effects would be felt all along the line. Tight monitoring was necessary, with a readiness to leap into action at the slightest possibility of a delay or difficulty.
It took solid leadership in key moments, always being in problem-solving mode to keep the project on course. And since a positive attitude is the fuel that drives us, every piece of good news was quickly shared around to keep morale soaring.
Performance measurement strategy
Accurate measurement was a big challenge, with the many different traffic sources, online and offline acquisition channels, and the broad media deployment. Our measurement strategy had to provide the basis for decisions about media and identify the most popular sugar shacks and Metro store pickup points.
We built a strict UTM parameters nomenclature to track links to the "Ma cabane à la maison" website. We assigned unique links and URLs to each partner to use for online and offline offensives. We also configured 301 redirects for each URL so that UTM parameters could be inserted in the final link. On the "Ma cabane à la maison" website, we configured anonymized registration of visitor searches: by postal code, sugar shack, and Metro pickup point.
The data collected mapped out Quebecers’ enthusiastic response and identified the top acquisition channels for next time around.
At Prospek, accounts come in every form—one-off to ongoing, narrowly pinpointed to wide-ranging, requests for ideas to rollouts of plans already in place.
"Ma cabane à la maison" was in a category all its own: projects that make a difference. It was an adventure that let us deploy our full potential both as professionals and—most of all—as a team.
Thank you ASEQC for your trust. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to run this big, beautiful campaign.