Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

It’s Been a Good Year for… Sid Lee

Advertising Agency
Montreal, Canada
LBB's Alex Reeves looks back at a stellar year for the agency

Across it’s five offices, Sid Lee has delivered the goods in 2017. Whether that’s reinventing the car dealership with their #HondaNextDoor campaign, celebrating the iconic North Face Nuptse or addressing social issues through art, the body of work emerging from the agency this year is impressive. And the creative community recognised them for it.

Sid Lee won six Lions in Cannes this year - a Bronze for their ‘Question Madness’ anthem for The North Face, another for their ‘Street Swatches’ campaign for Réno-Dépôt and four for their rebranding work on logistics brand Fuel.

“It was a great year for The North Face and Sid Lee,” says Nico Van Erum, Managing partner of Sid Lee LA. “We’re proud of the work accomplished and the recognition we received in Cannes. This sets the stage to push creative boundaries ever further in 2018." 

That brand is a good place to start when talking about the agency. As their most recent campaign ‘Walls Are Meant for Climbing’ demonstrates, The North Face have both a product and a sense of brand values that people respect and want to be a part of. And they’re a brand that want to be part of these communities too.

Nico describes the campaign as “an example of our contribution to stretch the scope of conversations around the brand and its extended role in culture. We believe in breaking boundaries to create work that matters.”

The other offices also created work that matters this year. Sid Lee Montreal ran an art contest called ‘Posters for Peace’ in September that received over 300 submissions. The winning 40 posters, selected by an esteemed jury, were unveiled at Montreal's ‘Bed-in for Peace’ event and printed on bed sheets on the Esplanade Place Ville-Marie. The outdoor exhibit was in celebration of John and Yoko's "Bed-in for Peace" in 1969, which was originally held across the street at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, which, incidentally reopened this year with Sid Lee Architecture’s partnership, complete with a new John Lennon and Yoko Ono suite.

"Posters for Peace was a creative response to the state of the world,” said Phil Meunier, Chief Creative Officer, Co-Founder and Senior Partner. “It gave artists an opportunity and platform addressing social change and injustices. With a surge of applicants worldwide, the 40-exhibited works during Montreal’s Bed-in for Peace sparked a conversation globally.”

Sid Lee Toronto picked up an impressive raft of awards for their slick rebrand for Fuel Transport - on paper, not a particularly exciting brand, but apparently that doesn’t mean they can’t have a cool corporate identity. "For this project to go so far on the international stage and pick up four Cannes Lions shows just how powerful branding can be,” says Tom Koukodimos, Executive Creative Director, Partner at Sid Lee. “In the coming year, we hope to continue to break boundaries with our work, pushing the limit of each mandate further."

Paris kept up the good work too, whether they were reinventing the car dealership for Honda, inspiring lovemaking in any venue for SKYN or reminding French DIYers that some jobs are best left to the professionals, like those contained in the Yellow Pages

But where Paris really shone was in the business headlines - a quick run-down: they’ve won more than 10 different brand accounts, grown their staff by 50% and acquired urban culture experts YARD.

“2017 was an exceptional year for Sid Lee Paris,” says Johan Delpuech, President of Sid Lee Paris. “This year we’ve had a lot of luck and have had the ability to transform a lot of these challenges. Thinking of just a few - there’s Paris Saint-Germain, for whom we’ve been working to build an ambitious digital vision (media, e-commerce, content…), KFC, for whom we’re creating a whole new 360 approach, Sobieski, ADOVA (Simmons, Treca, Dunlopillo), Skyn Europe, Bein, Michelin, Moet & Chandon.

“I think these brands chose Sid Lee for several reasons. No doubt, there’s the human factor. The agency shows a lot of empathy for and proximity to our clients. Even if the agency has strong strategic and creative convictions, we never assume a position of authority; we have more of a co-construction approach with our clients.

“From a career point of view, thanks to our model, we have this ability to be able to delve deep into subjects and always find a tailored solution. Sometimes a sell-in/sell-out approach is the key to a brand’s success, sometimes it’s a case of updating merchandising to be more coherent with our times, sometimes it’s a question of “fast content” production to be closer to our clients’ culture.

Brands also come looking for an agency with an international culture in Paris. We can’t think about borders anymore, influence is global. Sid Lee has that.”

The human aspect he mentions was certainly a factor in the agency’s acquisition of YARD. “Our cultures are different but our values are the same: proximity, empathy, creative demand…” explains Johan. But there was also a timing element - both agencies needed to take on a big project. “Each agency had the possibility to help develop the other’s plans and each had the ability to do so.”

As YARD co-founders Tom Brunet and Yoan Prat explained to LBB’s Addison Capper recently, “Sid Lee clients are feeling the need now to talk to this young target. There’s also a natural fit with Sid Lee because we share the same idea of creating relevant content for people. We believe brands are accepted when they provide good content to people. We also reached a point where we needed more structure, more people to help us write down the strategic and creative vision our team has. All of this is to better help our clients, and future clients, communicate in the right way with global youth.”

Looking ahead, Johan is far from cocksure. “2018 looks like it’s going to be another very demanding year for Sid Lee Paris,” he admits. They will need to prioritise their clients, new and old and make sure they hold onto that business. 2017 saw the agency make significant gains in Europe. “We have the responsibility to follow-up strategically and creatively on these projects,” he says.  

With their influx of new talent in 2017, they will also need to invest in that human capital and integrate those people as well as possible. This logic will be leading the agency’s moves in 2018, starting with their move to a new Paris office next spring. It’s safe to say Sid Lee’s got a lot on its plate going into the new year.

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