Visionaries

2005
Guy Laliberte

Cirque du Soleil

“My marketing inspirations were Enzo Ferrari and PT Barnum. Enzo Ferrari knew exactly how to market his product. His philosophy to make one less car than was on demand served him well!”

“PT Barnum created marketing in my eyes. When Barnum and Bailey was in town, you knew about it! An elephant would block the streets and a parade of clowns riding mini-cars would stop traffic. You would know the inventor of ‘BUZZ’ was PT Barnum.”

Guy Laliberté was born in Quebec City in 1959 and raised in the small town of St. Bruno. At 18, Guy left home to hitchhike across Europe and worked as a street performer. Following his travels, when he returned to Quebec and began organizing parties and street festivals out of a youth hostel.

In 1982, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix performed at the Baie-Saint-Paul fair as part of a new troupe of young acrobats who juggled, played the accordion and spat fire while perched on stilts. Two years later, Laliberté and another early collaborator, Daniel Gauthier, Gauthier were contracted to entertain at the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s arrival in the New World. The first production was staged in Gaspé, and then visited 12 other cities in the province. They called their troupe Cirque du Soleil.

Over the next seven years, Cirque du Soleil toured across Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan, creating a sensation wherever they toured. In 1992, Cirque signed a 10-year contract, since extended and added to, with Mirage Group in Las Vegas at the Treasure Island Hotel. Cirque du Soleil has since established three other permanent installations in that town.

“When we first set up the Fête Forraine in Baie-St-Paul, I knew we had something unique. When we first presented Cirque du Soleil in LA and the public reacted the way it did, I knew we were going to last…”

Over 50 million people worldwide have seen Cirque du Soleil perform. In 2004 alone, more than 7 million people saw Cirque du Soleil perform. Cirque employs more than 3,000 people, and had revenues of $650 million in 2004.

“Trust your instinct, then validate with research. Not the other way around. Don’t use research to define what you should think!”
Guy Laliberté received the Ordre National du Québec, the highest distinction awarded by the Government of Quebec, in 1997 In 2001, he was named a Great Montrealer by the Académe des Grands Montréalais and in 2003, he was honoured by the Condé Nast group as part of the Never Follow Program, a tribute to creators and innovators. He has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 100 influencers in the world. In November 2004, Guy received the Order of Canada.

“I do believe we foster creativity in Quebec and in Canada. I think that we are being recognized as an amazing group of talent throughout the world. I think we need to persevere in accomplishing creative ideas…”

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