Soccer team in a huddle

Corporate Sponsorships Reimagined: Cirque du Soleil

Feature Article | May 11, 2017 by Ian Lidstone, Global Director of Corporate Alliances, Cirque du Soleil Hot Story

Since 1984, Cirque du Soleil has grown from a single show in rural Quebec to a global and constantly-shifting ecosystem performing in over 450 cities and entertaining over 160 million spectators worldwide.

Currently Cirque du Soleil has 4,000 employees including 1,300 artists, managing 4,500 active suppliers, and sells over 10 million tickets annually. Since 2001, we’ve relied on SAP to help simplify our business —and the authenticity of that relationship is the reason we’ve chosen SAP as our technology partner.

SAP has essentially cracked the code at Cirque du Soleil. They’ve won the trust and respect of the creative side of our business, which for good reason has been notoriously close-to-the-vest. From the start, design thinking sessions fostered collaboration, which has led to a true co-innovation relationship where we feel the sky is the limit.


Corporate Sponsorships Reimagined is a series documenting the experiences of SAP sponsorship partners, in their own words.


Our most ambitious show thus far, TORUK – The First Flight (based on James Cameron’s AVATAR), is a perfect example. Wanting to integrate innovative and engaging technology into the show our creative team shared the storyline for TORUK – The First Flight with the SAP team very early in the process—something that had not been done previously. Because of the trust level our creative guys had with SAP, both sides understood the challenges from the start and worked together to create an application which would elevate the in-show interactions of our patrons and adapt to the different arenas.  To date, TORUK – The First Flight has been to over 50 markets and performed over 350 shows.  Of the 1.3 million fans who have attended this show, 27% have download the app – far exceeding our expectations out of the gate and allowing our fans to be part of the show – during the show!

In the end, for us, that’s what it comes down to, how we engage with our fans… emotionally, technologically – to ensure a world class experience every time they walk through our doors. And the customer-first message, the message of understanding and the connection that this type of empathy enables, is something SAP shares, and it shows in how they advise and dialogue with us. They’ve invited us, and we’ve been honored to speak at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, and our CEO has recently shared the stage with CEO Bill McDermott at SAP Select.

As a business with thousands of stakeholders constantly on the move around the world, Cirque du Soleil’s best bet for simplicity is the cloud. That’s one of the many things SAP has going for it, and a primary reason we’ve chosen them as our technology partner. From procurement to travel expense management, our very-dispersed lives have been made easier, the Cirque train is focused and on track.

Since our first interactions with SAP we’ve been proud to say that they’ve been a driving force allowing us to expand geographically, across platforms, and operationally. Several doors have been opened to amazing testimonials on both sides of the relationship.

We were looking for a partner with a vision and desire to innovate, and one who would authentically engage and grow with us—safe to say we’ve absolutely found that partner. Knowing that we’re going to need to lean on technology more and more, especially as fan interaction becomes even more paramount, we rest assured we’re in the right position to move confidently as we define the future of live entertainment.  Perhaps most importantly, whether it is through our day to day interactions or managing large scale initiatives we feel as we are working amongst family with SAP.  Our partnership continues to evolve and broaden with no shortage of ideas – the best is yet to come!

Learn more about how SAP helps Cirque du Soleil Run Live.


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Ian Lidstone is global director of Corporate Alliances for Cirque du Soleil

© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. TORUK THE FIRST FLIGHT is a trademark of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Cirque du Soleil is a trademark owned by Cirque du Soleil and used under license.
Photo: Matt Beard © 2017 Cirque du Soleil

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