Lawrence Creaghan

If Normand Grenier hadn’t called me that Thursday afternoon, Grenier aux nouvelles would never have seen the light of day. It was one of those serendipity moments.

Normand called to tell me he was leaving the Publicité Club the next day and wasn’t sure what to do. The club was in financial straits and Normand and others on staff had been given their walking papers.

Everybody in the ad business knew and loved Normand Grenier. He had been a key person at the Publicité Club for years. He also compiled the club’s newsletter about people, accounts, and other advertising topics of interest. The newsletter was published every few months and eagerly awaited by everyone.

It just so happened that I was working on an idea for a weekly fax newsletter at the time he called. This was when the fax was still the go-to technology for getting information out quickly. I had done some work on layouts and was tinkering with a fax-modem, a great improvement over feeding paper through a fax machine. The real advantage was that you could program the fax-modem to automatically send out faxes to a list of members or subscribers. All I was missing was content.

So I told Normand that he called at just the right moment. I was working on something that might interest him and solve his problem about what to do. I invited him over to my house and showed him my fax newsletter idea, explained how the fax-modem worked and he immediately saw the possibilities. He also knew how popular his Publicité Club newsletter was and could see that a weekly one-page fax newsletter was a formula that would very likely appeal to subscribers.
Vidéo hommage à Normand Grenier (2013)

I knew right away that Normand was just the person to make the fax newsletter work. He had the contacts and knew the Montreal and Quebec advertising milieu like the back of his hand. And everyone knew him, and, more importantly, liked him and trusted him. So I passed the idea on for him to develop and off he went.

To his great credit, Normand spent months doing research on newsletters in general, fax and otherwise, including trips to New York and Chicago to see what was out there. When all was finally ready to go, he sent out his newsletter to hundreds of people free for the first 12 weeks. And when the time came for people to subscribe to Grenier aux nouvelles, they did so in droves.

A great publishing success story was born and for the next 20-plus years Normand Grenier (1945–2017) was a permanent fixture on the Montreal and Quebec advertising scene. It’s all very well told in Valérie Beauregard’s excellent article in La Presse, and the impact of Normand’s work is testified to in the Hommage à Normand Grenier video.

– Lawrence Creaghan