Sid Lee is a creative agency headquartered in Montreal, with a second outpost in Toronto, but with an increasingly international presence that includes two offices in the US, as well as in Paris. (A separate Amsterdam outpost was shuttered in 2016). The group offers a wide variety of different creative disciplines, including architecture and design, and also runs C2, a major annual innovation conference in its home city. Yard is a creative content unit working alongside the Paris agency. In 2015, the agency agreed to be acquired by Japanese group Hakuhodo for an undisclosed sum, but continues to operate independently of its parent under the parent of international division Kyu. It originated in Montreal in 1993 as a promotional marketing and experiential shop under the name Diesel. A legal challenge from the Italian fashion label in 2006 prompted the change to the current name (an anagram of Diesel). Since then it has moved successfully into guerrilla-style creative advertising, most notably for long-time client Adidas. Growth has occasionally been bumpy: Dell's substantial North American business was a big win in 2011 and an equally big loss less than a year later. However, the agency has continued to bolt on other big global clients since then, not least the international Absolut vodka account. In 2012, a large minority stake was acquired by another key client Cirque du Soleil; it remains a commercial partner following the Hakuhodo deal. Canadian trade magazine Marketing named Sid Lee Agency of the Year for three successive years from 2009 and 2011, and again in 2013. Co-founders Jean-Francois Bouchard and Philippe Meunier remain chairman and chief creative officer respectively; Bertrand Cesvet is CEO. Adbrands does not currently offer a business profile for Sid Lee but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information for the agency. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
Capsule checked 5th October 2018
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Social Media 6th Mar 2019: "The Hybrid You Can Feel". The first big campaign from Honda's new pan-European agency is a big disappointment compared to the fine work we've come to expect from the local offices of Wieden & Kennedy and McGarryBowen. Hakuhodo Collective is a dedicated unit drawing upon that Japanese group's handful of European subsidiaries, most notably the Paris outpost of Sid Lee. You might have expected better from that usually interesting agency. These are supposedly genuine testimonials from a collection of "real" Honda drivers across Europe. They're all suspiciously photogenic though, with distinctively actorly voices, and I've never heard such manufactured-sounding endorsements. "Onroad, offroad... it's still a road, right?" "It's like I can drive further than the horizon." Seriously, who talks like that apart from a copywriter? We already know Europe is, financially at least, one of Honda's least important regions. This Euro-pudding really emphasises that fact.
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Jan 2019: Longtime Omnicom executive Herve Grossard has joined Sid Lee as European chairman. Brossard had spent more than 40 years at The US group, most recently as CEO of Omnicom Media Group France and EVP, DDB Worldwide.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jun 2018: Ads of the Week: "Good Sleep for Great Ideas". It's probably safe to say that no one expects ads for mattresses to be especially interesting. They are usually run-of-the-mill, sometimes amusing, but rarely stylish. Yet the French outpost of American mattress maker Simmons has been quietly defying convention for several months with help from the Paris office of creative boutique Sid Lee. Here's their latest little confection, designed to persuade us that creativity is born from a good night's sleep on a Simmons mattress. Clearly, the team at Sid Lee have all been testing that theory at home, and it must work.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Feb 2018: Ads of the Week "Be Olympic". With all the buzz surrounding the Super Bowl it's all too easy to overlook some of the other great work out there. Here's a fabulous ad from Sid Lee in Toronto for the Canadian Olympic Team. It's not like many sports-related ads you've ever seen before, taking a reasonably familiar epic-heroic style but repositioning it within an extraordinary painterly universe. It all goes to show that sport is about much more than just sport, it's about virtue and victory in the face of insurmountable odds. Marvellous.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Question Madness". Sid Lee's first campaign as global agency for The North Face offers a compilation of extraordinary clips which illustrate the highs and lows of outdoor adventuring. It's a clever idea: is this bold excitement or life-threatening madness? The answer of course is... it's both. Which is why it's so powerful. Those clips of freestyle climbers are especially nerve-wracking, even when they have ropes to catch their falls.
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