Quebec ad campaign featuring blind tourist bears strong resemblance to South African ad

Montreal-based ad firm Lg2 is denying allegations its highly successful viral video campaign for Tourism Quebec featuring a blind tourist travelling the province is in fact a copy of a similar campaign for South African Tourism.

Both ad campaigns feature stunning images of blind tourists enjoying natural beauty

Similarities have been noted between Tourism Quebec's viral three-and-a-half minute "blindlove" video, released last month, and a 2014 South African Tourism campaign. (Tourism Quebec/YouTube)

Montreal-based ad firm Lg2 is denying allegations its highly successful viral video campaign for Tourism Quebec featuring a blind tourist travelling the province is in fact a copy of a similar campaign for South African Tourism.

Tourism Quebec's three-and-a-half minute"blindlove" online video has been viewed more than 13 million times since it was launched last month.

It features inspiring music and stunning images of Danny Kean, a real blind man from New York, travelling the province fishing, ziplining, whitewater rafting, attending concerts and dining out.

Many YouTube commenters who watched the video praised it as "beautiful" and "heartwarming", and some were moved to tears.

Déja vu

The concept is not new.

In 2014, South African Tourism released a remarkably similar two minute online video.

It features inspiring music and stunning images of a blind man travelling the country, fishing, surfing, going on safari, attending a concert and dining out.

Unlike the Quebec video, the man in the South African video is an actor, and the fact that his character is blind is not revealed until the end.

But there are other similarities.

Both protagonists ponder experiencing the world with senses other than sight.

"There's a reason why people close their eyes when they kiss, when they cry and when they pray.  because the most essential things in life must be felt with our hearts," Danny Kean says in the Quebec video.

"Suddenly you find yourself in a place where true beauty isn't something you'll ever see, because in this place beauty has a much deeper meaning," says the protagonist in the South African video.

Ad firm denies plagiarism

Satirical Montreal website "cliqueduplateau" first wrote about the similarity Monday after being tipped off by a reader.

Marc Fortin, vice-president and creative director of Lg2, the Montreal-based ad firm that produced the video for Tourism Quebec, said the creative team came up with the concept, planned it out on paper, and signed a deal with Tourism Quebec to produce it before ever hearing about the South African video.

He said it was someone from Tourism Quebec who first pointed out the existence of the South African video.

"He said 'oh I might have seen something a bit similar, let me send it to you,'  and we saw it a couple of days after the presentation," Fortin said.

Major difference

Fortin said the creative team at Lg2 noted the obvious similarities in the two campaigns, but felt there were significant enough differences to proceed.

"Of course we were not happy about those similarities. But I think the fact that our thing was so authentic and real, that it was a documentary touched a lot of people," Fortin said.

"That's probably where our video was different than the other one. We asked ourselves 'Is it too much the same?', but we decided to go with it," Fortin said.

As for the similar shooting styles and images, Fortin said that's inevitable in tourism videos.

"There are things that are pillars you have to show — food, water, nature, big space, urbanity.  All those things were chosen before," he said.


Fortin said Lg2 is too experienced and too smart to knowingly steal someone else's idea.  He said it's just a coincidence.

"It might be possible to understand that sometimes ideas can come in two different countries at two different moments without any bad intention," Fortin said.

So far it appears South African Tourism is unaware of Tourism Quebec's video.

No one with South African Tourism was available to comment Thursday.