When innovation becomes an exercise in agility

“The true act of discovery is not finding new lands, but seeing with new eyes.” Marcel proust

No company beats Cirque du Soleil to illustrate Proust’s vision, as it has redefined the old-fashioned and decaying theater genre in the 1980s and has been continually changed and reinvented ever since. Cirque du Soleil was originally created by a band of creatively inventive street performers and has entertained nearly 150 million people on six continents and in more than 300 cities to date, exceeding $ 1 billion in annual revenue.

The Canadian company began its transformation by capturing comments from its circus audience, asking what they really liked about its show. As the feedback was quite negative, he proceeded to question his own perception of what a performance was really about. To help with the process, Cirque du Soleil sought inspiration outside of the circus industry in adjacent markets such as theater, live music acts, street arts, ballet, opera, etc. The result was the introduction of a new form of entertainment, themed shows, combining compelling stories, artistic costumes, world-class music, dance, and athletics. Cirque du Soleil reinvented itself so completely that one of its first productions was called “We Reinvent the Circus.” Now his repertoire includes 33 shows, of which 21 are still on tour, on a variety of topics, from water sports (O) to The Beatles (Love), martial arts (Ká), insects (Ovo) and the evolution of the humanity (Totem). .

As part of its transition from the traditional circus, Cirque du Soleil dropped some established acts, such as those featuring animals and star performers (for example, the “star clown”), raised the bar for acrobatics, hired professional singers and orchestra and created a new concept of developing a stage on how a show should be run from start to finish. In addition, he increased the uniqueness of his venues by developing his own stylish multi-hoop tents. Ditching structurally unattractive circus acts lowered their cost base, while the uniqueness of their shows allowed for a higher pricing policy than circus. He had entered an indisputable market.

The Canadian company expanded its target audience beyond the existing circus, moving away from the unprofitable children’s market and reaching a whole new group of clients, adults and corporate clients, who were willing to pay a higher price for an unprecedented entertainment experience. and He had abandoned the traditional circus for other types of entertainment such as theater, cabaret, opera, ballet or concerts. At the same time, developing two or three productions each year and creating a combination of touring and seated shows created a market for regulars that had not been possible with traditional circus performances.

To achieve this level of innovative art, Cirque du Soleil has established a culture of innovation, constantly seeking new challenges and cultivating openness and debate. The diversity of people, ideas, ambitions, and influences is at the heart of the positive friction and artistic tension that gives birth to breakthrough breakthrough and, most importantly, helps weed out bad ideas quickly. His deep commitment to R&D is the catalyst for his creative spark. He has built extensive archives with thousands of books, videos, musical scores, and pictures. She is continually researching trends for new ideas, including “what’s cool and unique,” and she’s always looking for young artists from diverse backgrounds to gain access to new and diverse points of view. It works closely with the engineering and art departments of universities that actively seek ideas from students for their programs. In 2013, he announced the formation of a Las Vegas-based multi-year scholarship program (home to seven Cirque du Soleil productions) with the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. New techniques are also constantly being developed. Stunt mentor André Simard, whose innovations include a new safety line for aerobatics, is called not a creative director but a “research and development specialist.”

Cirque du Soleil has used its innovative art to develop partnerships that have helped expand its yellow and blue striped marquee, but have also gone further to build an ever-growing set of business models around product marketing, licensing and video production, including:

– Alliances with companies such as Disney, MGM Mirage or Grupo Vedanta to develop new programs.

– Joint ventures such as Cirque du Soleil Media with Bell Media to develop multimedia content for television, film, digital and gaming platforms that gave rise to the 3-D feature film “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” in collaboration with the film producer. James Cameron

– Your own special events business that hosts a handful of private and corporate events each year with specially choreographed programs or content. These include the Super Bowl in 2007, the launch of Microsoft’s Kinect system for Xbox Los Angeles in 2010, the promotion of Google’s Chrome browser in 2012 or the recent launch of the IWC aquamarine collection in Geneva.

– Expansion to adjacent markets as advertising through the acquisition of a minority stake in Sid lee cooperate in the area of ​​branding or fitness content, partnering with Reebok to create a feminine fitness routine based on their artistic creation.

The Cirque du Soleil market has become more contested as a result of increased competition from older circuses improving their acts, from other companies like Momix that merge various disciplines, and from newer smaller teams. However, its multiple business models appear to help Cirque du Soleil prosper without compromising the company’s core revenue stream or artistic integrity.

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