The story of a marketing genius
This guy is a marketing genius.
You have to go see one of his circus show to understand the promotion and sales of his products.
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Watch the video then read the story behind this public relations genius billionaire as he reveals some of his secrets to personal success and achievement.
A video clip of the show we saw
Starting out as an accordion player, stiltwalker and fire-eater; Laliberté created his circus which is a synthesis of all circus styles around the world. In 2006, this 95% share holder of the 1.2 billion dollar Cirque Du Soleil was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Early marketing years
Guy Laliberté was born in Québec City, Canada in 1959, the son of a nurse and a public relations executive for the Alcan Aluminum Corporation.
By the time he was sixteen, he had decided to pursue a career in the performing arts after producing (already involved in marketing) several high school events. After graduating, he became involved with a folk music group called "La Grande Gueule", playing the accordion and harmonica.
His work on the folk music scene was what introduced him the art of street performance. It is truly the street of guerilla marketing.
After quitting college, Laliberté toured Europe as a folk musician and busker. He had learned the art of fire breathing by the time he returned home to Canada in 1979.
Although he became employed at a hydroelectric power plant in James Bay, his job ended after only three days due to a labor strike. Supporting himself off of his unemployment insurance, he decided not to look for another job. Instead, he joined the stilt-walking troupe "Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul" that was led by Gilles Ste-Croix. Shortly afterward, Laliberté and Ste-Croix organized a summer fair in Baie-Saint-Paul with the help of Laliberté's soon-to-be business partner Daniel Gauthier.
This festival, called the "La Fēte Foraine", first took place in July of 1982 touring Quebec. Ironically, the event was barred from its host town shortly thereafter because of complaints by local citizens. Laliberté managed and produced the fair over the next couple years, nurturing it into a moderate financial success. But it was during 1983 that the government of Quebec gave him a 1.5 million dollar grant to host a production the following year as part of Quebec's 450th anniversary celebration of the French explorer Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. Laliberté named his creation "Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil."
The celebration turned out to be a critical marketing and commercial success. Although the first tour of Cirque only netted a forty-thousand dollar profit, it allowed him to sign almost 1.5 million dollars in contracts.
They had been performing exclusively for Canadian audiences until 1987 when Laliberté risked everything and took his circus to the Los Angeles Arts Festival. It cost the production's entire cash reserve to make the move. Had it not been successful, he would not have had the money to move the troupe back home to Quebec.
Cirque du Soleil
Laliberté's vision was to create a circus with neither a ring nor animals. The rationale was that the lack of both of these things draws the audience more into the performance. By the end of 1987, temporary engagements had been scheduled in Santa Monica and San Diego, netting more than 1.5 million dollars in profit.
After a bad experience dealing with Columbia Pictures, Laliberté committed himself to remaining free of outside influence. He, along with business partner Daniel Gauthier, ensured that they keep a controlling interest in their company. With this interest came the freedom to make whatever decisions or take whatever risks they felt necessary. This freedom has allowed Cirque to produce such shows as "KÀ", which with a 165 million dollar price tag, would probably never have otherwise been produced.
Cirque Du Soleil has created twenty different shows, fifteen of which are currently running marketing them around the world.
In 2001, Guy bought out his business partner, Daniel Gauthier for an undisclosed sum. As of today he has a 95% interest in his company. After more than twenty years, Laliberté remains the driving force behind his company. Although critics argue that he has reached the maximum potential that the circus can offer, he continues to look for new ideas, including moving into other mediums such as spas, restaurants and nightclubs.
In his own words: "We didn't reinvent the circus, we repackaged it in a much more modern way."
His latest project "Love" is a marketing masterpiece. A collaboration between the Beatles family and the "Cirque."
If you love internet marketing then go to their web site and buy some tickets, you'll discover how they do direct marketing online and by email. Simply fantastic!
Guy is also a poker player
In April 2007, Laliberté finished fourth in the World Poker Tour Season Five event at Bellagio in Las Vegas. Laliberté also played on GSN's High Stakes Poker Season 4 show. He also appears in Poker After Dark season 4.
Learn to give back
On October 29, 2007, Guy Laliberté announced, in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, and Gordon Nixon, President and Chief Executive Officer of RBC Financial Group, the official launch of the ONE DROP Foundation to fight poverty in the world by giving everyone access to water.
Inspired by the creative experience of Cirque du Soleil and its international program for street kids, Cirque du Monde, the ONE DROP Foundation makes use of the circus arts, folklore, popular theatre, music, dance and the visual arts to promote education, community involvement and public awareness of water issues. Technical projects in developing countries will improve access to water, ensure food security and promote gender equality in communities. The Foundation will unveil its program for developed countries in 2008.
The operating costs of ONE DROP will be covered by a $100 million contribution from Guy Laliberté over 25 years. Field activities will be financed by donations from the employees of Cirque du Soleil and from the public, as well as through funding commitments by Canadian and international partners.
Oxfam International, through Oxfam-Québec, has been associated with ONE DROP since 2005 in a three-year pilot project in Nicaragua. A leader in development aid, Oxfam brings expertise in selecting and implementing field projects. Their involvement with the ONE DROP Foundation is based on a common desire to support sustainable development with concrete actions and in collaboration with local partners.