Friday, June 25
Cirque du Soleil
Making mistakes is a part of marketing. If you are not on the edge of innovation, then you stand the chance of dying a slow death. So I believe that experimentation is a key part of the marketing process, in a constant pursuit of trying to evolve your brand. Even if you make a mistake, if the brand is strong it will survive. Look at Coca-Cola when it launched New Coke. Look at Madonna when she made the movie Body of Evidence (bet you don't even remember that one!).
My colleague Andy Levy just recently witnessed what looks to be a strong brand that perhaps made a big mistake. I'll let him share his perspective.
What's your experience, Andy? Jim.
In early 2010 when I heard that a new Cirque du Soleil show, “Banana Shpeel” was coming to New York City I immediately got excited. I love Cirque du Soleil shows – I have seen 5 of them and been lucky enough to meet the shows creator and co-founder Guy Laliberte. After every show I leave feeling that I had experienced something extraordinary. When I heard that the new show was coming to the intimate Beacon Theatre I was even more excited knowing I could get even a closer look at the performers balance and contort themselves in remarkable ways.
In my mind, Cirque du Soleil = Extraordinary.
I quickly went online to look at some videos on YouTube and the show looked like it would be fantastic. I even went to a New York Times talk, Behind the Scenes of Cirque du Soleil Banana Shpeel, and I left equally peaked. The show would be based on Vaudeville, not acrobatics, so it was clear that the brand was trying something new. I went to Zumanity, a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas based on Burlesque, and loved it. It’s been running for years so clearly the brand could be successful at non-acrobatic concepts.
I began reading that the opening was being delayed not once, twice, but three times!
Seemed that the producers were having trouble with development of the show so I put off buying tickets. Then one day on a Taxi TV I observed a promo that had practically wiped clear the Cirque du Soleil name and ended, “… produced by Cirque du Schmelky”. In another commercial a graphic line crossed off “Soleil” and replaced it with “Schmelky”!
I slowly began to see a purposeful de-branding. It seemed Cirque du Soleil was attempting to remove their name from a show that wasn’t working. I eventually went to see it regardless of the reviews - even hearing news that the show would be closing 2 months early.
It was a valiant attempt at something different, but it seemed that this one didn’t give theatergoers what they wanted. Can’t win them all.
- Andy Levy, intern at Lippe Taylor Brand Communications