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Marketing a Destination

The marketing image of a destination typically builds on the iconic elements that distinguish it from its competitors. The Rocher Percé is one such icon, a godsend to marketers of all epochs.

Poster of the Gaspé Peninsula, with a simple and modern graphic design. In the foreground, a man on the beach leans on a sailboat. At his feet an anchor lies on the beach. In a luminous atmosphere of a sunset, the man observes the Percé Rock, massive and imposing, giving the impression of being an immense liner that advances in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the blue sky above the rock is written: La Péninsule de Gaspé Peninsula.

lllustrator Ernest Senécal created this poster LA PÉNINSULE DE GASPÉ PENINSULA in 1944 for the Office du Tourisme de la province de Québec.


Although not as well-known as the battlements of Quebec or the falls of Montmorency or Niagara, the Rocher Percé is one of a handful of landmarks in Canada that is recognizable around the world. It is one of the most photographed landscapes in Quebec and a favourite of travellers for generations. It has been used on postage stamps, coins, adorned plates and all kinds of souvenirs and even Kleenex boxes.

For much of its history, the Gaspé was promoted using illustrations. Posters, covers and advertisements featured the work of artists, whose work was used to provide the region with a visual signature. Photography became the norm in the 1960s when the visual culture of the period demanded colour photography.

Cover page of the Gaspésie booklet produced by the Ministry of Roads. The cover is illustrated by a romantic image of the Gaspésie. In a sunset, a 1930s model car advances on a road that crisscrosses the foot of the immense coastal cliffs of Gaspésie.

The Gaspé Peninsula History, Legends, Resources, Attractions provided drivers with information and local legends to inform their first visit to the region.


Because of its size and importance, the government of Quebec was the lead player in promoting the region. It developed most of the marketing tools and paid for their printing and distribution. On occasion, the government of Canada got into the game as well, but mostly through Canadian National which was the government railway until the 1990s.

Canadian National Railways advertisement printed in a National Geographic magazine. The headline reads: French Canada’s Romantic Gaspé Just like a trip abroad. Below the title, a photograph of Percé Rock, the Percé coast and fishing boats. On the beach, a horse pulls a fishing boat out of the water. On the right side of the page is the logo of the Canadian National Railway and on the right is a photograph of a woman painting outdoor above Percé Rock.

In this May 1952 advertisement, Canadian National Railways featured a photo of Percé Rock to promote the Gaspé as one of Canada’s 10 Top Maple Leaf Vacations.


Choosing an image to represent a tourism destination is never easy. The push and pull is part of a dynamic tension that informs every choice, one school of thought wishing to promote what is familiar and the other seeking to attract new visitors by featuring new experiences.

Cover of a tourist pamphlet. In the upper part of the page, drawing of two young women standing on a cart drawn by an ox. A man helps one of the women get off the cart while the other controls the ox with a rope. The farmer observes the scene while smoking a pipe. In the background, the village of Perce and Percé Rock dominates the background. At the bottom of the pamphlet, two fashionable dressed young women walk across a map of the province of Quebec towards the Gaspésie. Near them a box proclaims: Have you ever had a French Canadian vacation?.

The colourful illustration promoting the Gaspé Peninsula is one of a series of eight brochures produced to entice tourists from the United States to visit the province.