Maxi accused of disregarding copyright

To promote its house brand on social networks, Maxi was clearly inspired by Ginette Reno’s hit Crescents of sun, but tried not to name the song. The grocer boasted of having found a way to avoid paying royalties. A marketing stunt that was intended to be funny, but which was strongly denounced by the music community.

“Our President’s Choice all-butter croissants are so good that they will make you want to sing the famous song about croissants that we are not allowed to mention because of copyright,” we could read last week on the supermarket chain’s Facebook page.

The post, which has since been removed, was accompanied by a photo montage showing croissants in a sun. “Can someone sing it in the comments please?” we asked in a mocking tone.

Suffice to say that this advertisement left little room for interpretation. It is indeed to Crescents of sun, a very well-known earworm sung by Ginette Reno, to which we were referring.

The Association of Music Publishing Professionals (APEM) directly challenged Maxi on this subject on Facebook on Friday: “you who sell croissants should know that it takes money to buy them. 10/10 for finding another way to advertise using a song without paying royalties, but 0/10 for supporting the music industry, which is hungry these days.”

The APEM did not fail to point out that Loblaw, the parent company of Maxi, displays impressive financial profits, enough to allow it to acquire the rights to a Quebec song for an advertisement.

Ginette Reno did not react. The composer Jean Robitaille indicated Monday to the Duty that Maxi had made a “serious blunder” by boasting of circumventing copyright. “What shocks me about this is that we laugh at copyright. As if it were ridiculous to have to pay rights holders when we use their work. “It’s a big lack of respect,” he said.

Loblaw ultimately apologized to Mr. Robitaille. In an email sent to Duty, the company assured that it never wanted to offend anyone. “We are in the process of reviewing our processes internally to ensure that such clumsiness does not happen again,” it was added.

Risk taking

Since the beginning of its collaboration with the LG2 agency, Maxi stands out by adopting an irreverent tone on its social networks and in its advertisements. A risk-taking which is generally well received, but which has also already put the company in the hot seat. In May 2020, it pulled one of its ads featuring Martin Matte after it was called “grossphobic” by some groups.

Note that neither LG2 nor Maxi had approached Jean Robitaille beforehand so that his song could be used in a publication. “If that had been the case. We probably would have said yes. It wouldn’t have been the first time Crescents of sun is used in an advertisement or in a film. It’s really not complicated to obtain the rights for this song and it’s not very expensive,” explains the composer, now 80 years old.

Jean Robitaille has composed titles for several artists, but Crescents of sun, released in 1974, remains his greatest success. He remembers having already received more than $100,000 in royalties in certain years. All this is a thing of the distant past today, even though he says he only received $4,000 last year for his compositions.

“Copyright is being circumvented more and more. It brings in a lot less than before. The rules are less strict. Digital platforms bring in almost nothing. Maxi’s case is not isolated. It shows the little consideration we have for rights holders,” he laments.

To watch on video

source site-46