Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil Launch Marketing Joint Venture

Absolut Vodka among first clients

Entertainment meets marketing in a new joint venture that combines the skills of Cirque du Soleil and ad agency Sid Lee. The venture, called Sid Lee Entertainment, was announced tonight at the Cannes Lions festival. The new company will craft live experiential programs that are linked to a brand’s attributes. Its first clients are Absolut Vodka and Lolë, a women’s apparel company.

For Absolut, in upcoming months the venture will unveil a live event targeted at a specific market, which will include online content designed for that targeted audience, according to an agency rep. Later, the campaign will be rolled out to the mass market, he said.

“Behind Cirque du Soleil’s shows lies a fantastic team of production, logistics and touring experts who help us produce shows in over 260 cities,” said Daniel Lamarre, CEO of Cirque. “Through Sid Lee Entertainment, we wish to use this expertise to serve advertisers by creating new platforms specifically developed to bring their brand DNA to life,” he  said.

“In a digitized society, we believe that real and magical entertainment experiences will have the most impact on the consumer,” said Bertrand Cesvet, Sid Lee’s chairman.

The new venture will be separate from the extravagant shows and costumed characters presented by Cirque in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Campaigns created by Sid Lee Entertainment will not include the Cirque du Soleil brand and “there will be no acrobats,” said insiders.

Sid Lee Entertainment will be headed by executive producer Joanne Fillion, who previously served as Cirque du Soleil’s brand director and creative director for images, events, and lifestyle. The new company has offices in New York, Montréal, Amsterdam, Paris and Toronto.

The relationship between Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil has developed over the last decade. Cirque hired Sid Lee to be its marketing agency in 2002 and then bought a minority stake in the agency in February 2012. The two companies, both headquartered in Montreal, worked together on the C2-MTL business conferences, which took place in May 2012 and 2013. The splashy conferences were designed as a platform to promote the city of Montréal as an international  creative hub.

Sid Lee surprised the advertising industry when it snagged Absolut’s global advertising and content account in Dec. 2012 , beating out  incumbent TBWA, the Omnicom-owned agency that debuted Absolut’s iconic “bottle shape” campaign back in the early 1980s. At the time of the win, Sid Lee executives said they were tasked by Absolut with “recruiting new global consumers through real and virtual marketing experiences.”

From its digital roots as Diesel in 1993, Sid Lee (an anagram of “Diesel”) has grown to 650 employees and has expanded into advertising, architecture and retail design, branded content, social media and experiential marketing.