Sorry Montreal: your ad campaign is wack but it’s working

Flight of shame. #slowflyby #sorryThe6ix! #sorrytoronto A photo posted by Jonny Biggs (@jnnybggs) on Dec.

Flight of shame. #slowflyby #sorryThe6ix! #sorrytoronto

A photo posted by Jonny Biggs (@jnnybggs) on

This week, a plane has been flying around the city’s skies with a huge banner flapping behind it that reads, “Sorry Toronto.”

It’s part of a campaign by Tourisme Montreal, pegged to the city’s 375th anniversary, to attract visitors to the 175 planned celebrations happening over the course of the coming year. In addition to the plane, there are posters all over town with the same tagline and you’ve likely seen digital ads and videos on Facebook (see below) with the same messaging.

“Dear neighbours from Toronto and New York,” reads Tourisme Montreal’s press release, “we’re turning 375 in 2017 so we’ll be celebrating all year! We’re going to make a lot of noise… Sorry! We live right next door so of course, you’re welcome to come and join us. Your neighbour, Montreal.”

But I didn’t interpret it that way, nor did some of my colleagues around the office. Instead, it feels more like a smug, #sorrynotsorry kind of message that aims to position Montreal as the all-night party city we aren’t, preying on Toronto’s FOMO. “Sorry we’re more fun than you,” was more the way I read it.

But as much as I feel like I’m being trolled every time I see that damn plane, it’s working. People are talking about it all over social media. I even Googled it. An ad campaign!

And presumably a lot of us are thinking about the last time we visited Montreal and even considering a future trip.

I used to visit Montreal frequently because so many of my pals had moved there to take advantage of low rent and the incredibly rich arts and culture scene that came with it. But beyond the native Montrealers who are fluently bilingual and upwardly mobile in that city, most have since left because, even with low rents, call centres and sex work were some of the only ways to make any money. I don’t have anyone’s couch to sleep on anymore!

That, combined with the news I read about Montreal government corruption, organized crime, police phone-tapping journalists, literally crumbling infrastructure not to suggest Toronto is superior, we have a very long list of our own problems just makes me resent the smug apology flying around the sky.

But happy birthday in 2017, Montreal. I’m sure lots of us will be there to celebrate next year. | @katierowboat

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