Montreal’s Creative Nightlife Takes Flight in This Ad Celebrating the City as ‘a Giant Playground’

An aerial acrobat acts as our guide

Tourisme Montréal

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a circus performer flapping huge wings as she pilots a fantastical balloon-contraption above the streets of Montreal!

That’s the central image of the short film below, part of agency lg2’s new “Never Grow Up” tourism push that exhorts potential visitors to experience the Canadian city’s vibrant attractions and nightlife.

Whoa, one strong gust and she’ll wind up in Nova Scotia!

It’s a memorable image that helps bring the campaign’s main message—“Some see a city. We see a giant playground.”—to life. The guitar-driven “Everybody Wants,” by Quebec indie rockers Half Moon Run, provides suitably upbeat, ethereal accompaniment.

The spot, which mainly targets Toronto and New York, seeks to keep Montreal’s numbers up after last year’s high-flying performance.

“The audience is very broad. millennial as well as 35 to 64,” François Poulin, marketing director at Tourisme
Montréal, tells Adweek. “The main takeaway is the promise of a city that will make you feel younger and alive, that will energize you because of its creativity, its vivacity, its culture, its gastronomic scene and its difference from other cities in North America.”

Alexandra Royer, a performer whose credits include Cirque Du Soleil, was, at times, suspended up to 30 feet in the air in the balloon-rig, which is normally used to light movie locations at night. (Cables connected the apparatus to equipment and handlers below for guidance and safety.)

As is often the case with tourism ads shot outside of peak season, the timing created a few challenges for the production.

Filming took place during two April evenings “when the temperature was below zero,” Poulin says. “We had to avoid trees as much as possible, since there were no leaves. and the campaign is promoting the summer season.”

Though some sweetening of the film was done in post—“Seagulls started to appear from everywhere at the last scene when you see her flying below the projected tower; we had to take theme out”—nothing was shot in the studio, he says.

Other playful campaign elements—some of which you can check out below — include outdoor signage, kicky 15-second spots that showcase culture and dining, sharable 6-second clips of the balloon fly-over, urban art created by Roadsworth, and bicycles with illuminated wheels that formed animated illustrations when ridden around town.

Alas, the bikes remained grounded.


Client: Tourisme Montréal
Vice president, Creative: Marc Fortin
Creative Direction: Marilou Aubin
Creative: Nicolas Labbé, Maude Bourcier-bouchard
Graphic Design: Simon Faber, David Arcouette
Strategic Planning: Sabrina Côté
Account Services: Julie Dubé, Stéphanie Pellicer, Évelyne Harnois Lebeau, Anne-sophie Forget
Agency Production: Nancy McDonald
Director: Philippe Grenier
DoP / Photography: Mathieu Elie
Production House / Production: 1one – Jean-rené Parenteau
Postproduction: 1one
Sound Studio / Engineering: Po Rioux (1one)
Music” Half Moon Run – Everybody Wants
Special Effects: Etienne Bergeron (1one)
2-d And 3-d Animation: Etienne Bergeron (1one)
Editing: Philippe Grenier
Project Management (Print And Digital): Mélanie Thérien
Media: Touché ! – Martin Soubeyran, Paul Rousseau, Tatjana Adzic, Amy Delafontaine

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.