Sid Lee is a creative agency headquartered in Montreal, 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. In 2015, the agency agreed to be acquired by Japanese group Hakuhodo for an undisclosed sum, but continues to operate independently of its parent. 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-founder Jean-Francois Bouchard remains CEO; Bertrand Cesvet is executive chairman. 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.
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Capsule checked 9th August 2016
Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
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.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th July 2015: Watch out Dentsu, there's another Japanese marketing group on the international acquisition trail. After testing the water with a few minor purchases on the US West Coast, Hakuhodo DY Holdings, the #2 group in Japan after Dentsu, has made its first truly significant Western purchase with a deal to acquire the Canadian-based creative boutique Sid Lee. HQed in Montreal, that agency already has a presence in New York, Paris and Amsterdam, and will expand into Asia with assistance from its new owners. It will retain its existing management, but will be overseen by former Omnicom executive Michael Birkin, who runs Hakuhodo's Kyu division, which houses a handful of other rather less well-known US agencies. No terms were disclosed for the deal, but it's understood that Sid Lee's part-shareholder Cirque du Soleil will maintain a realtionship with the agency.
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