Cossette co-founder and chairman Claude Lessard will be inducted into the Association of Creative Communications Agencies (A2C) Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution as one of the industry’s great builders in Quebec. At last night’s Créa Awards gala, the A2C announced that it was creating the Hall of Fame to recognize the great visionaries who have helped make marketing communications the booming excellence-driven industry it is today. These remarkable individuals will be inducted under the title of Builder, Beacon or Ally.
Chosen by the A2C’s Board of Directors, “builders” must be senior managers who have distinguished themselves through the impact of their work. This year, the Prix Hommage was awarded to Mr. Lessard for his pioneering spirit, leadership and invaluable contribution to the exceptional growth of Cossette, a trailblazer in the world of communications agencies.
“I am truly honoured to receive this award from the Association of Creative Communications Agencies. To me, it represents more than 45 years of commitment and collaboration with the talented people I have had the good fortune of meeting over the course of my career,” said Mr. Lessard. “Above all, I am delighted that the agency I started as a young entrepreneur has become everything I dreamed it could be. Over the years, Cossette has shaped the industry’s top talent, developed campaigns that were both memorable and impactful, and set more than its share of trends. Today, I am proud to say that its sights are firmly set on the future, which is looking brighter than ever,” he added.
“Claude Lessard has always embodied a revolutionary management philosophy based on an integrated communications approach. By maintaining a perfect balance between management and art, he left lots of room for creativity, which gave rise to spectacular campaigns that have left their mark on all of us,” noted Mélanie Dunn, President and CEO of Cossette in Canada. “He is without question a key figure in the history of Quebec’s marketing communications industry,” she said.
“I don’t think that Cossette would exist today if it weren’t for Claude Lessard. His human, offbeat approach, innovative vision and business acumen are the foundation of the nation’s leading marketing communications agency,” added Louis Duchesne, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Cossette in Quebec, and board member of A2C.
From humble beginnings come great things
When he was just 21, Lessard joined Cossette, then a small design studio in Quebec City. In order to get his foot in the door in the world of advertising, he offered to work for free. One year later, he and six colleagues got together and bought the company. And the results speak for themselves—the eight-person team grew to a workforce of 1,200 people in 12 countries, whose portfolio of clients is among the most prestigious in Canada, including McDonald’s Restaurants, Aeroplan, GM and General Mills.
Lessard is a man of conviction with strong ties to his roots—it’s no coincidence that the headquarters have remained in Quebec City, the company’s hometown, if you will, even though Cossette and its affiliates have offices in Montreal, Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
Married for over 45 years, father of three and grandfather six times over, Claude Lessard has always kept a low profile, preferring good hard work to adulation. The numerous accolades he’s received from industry leaders and specialists demonstrate the high esteem in which he’s held both at home and abroad. In October 2001, he received the Quebec Entrepreneur of the Year in the Media and Entertainment category, and the National Entrepreneur of the Year for Service Excellence from Ernst & Young. In 2002, Université Laval bestowed an honorary doctoral degree on Lessard. In January 2006, he was inducted into Toronto’s Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends and in June 2011, he was given the title of Grand Québécois 2012—Economic Sector.
The ceremony to honour inductees and celebrate their achievements will be held in May 2016.