Step right up
Throughout her career, Derricks has gravitated towards moments
of inflection, the latest of which found her with Cirque Du Soleil
last July under a new ownership structure. It was her ideal
scenario. "I love getting to ask questions, top to bottom, without
any regard for how things have always been done. And that's what I
walked into," she says.
She soon learned that Cirque, a 30-year-old institution, largely
grew organically. As a consequence, it hadn't relied on marketing
thinking to drive sales. Today, although ticket sales are still
strong, the market has tightened in Las Vegas, thanks to competing
residencies from artists like Britney Spears and Celine Dion. "In
Las Vegas, we sell as many as 20,000 tickets a night," she says.
"It's a lot of inventory in a very, very busy town. My job is all
about keeping our shows top of mind."
To make Cirque the most prominent carnival barker in town, if
you will, Derricks' team must continually reinvent their marketing.
"We have to always make the loudest noise in that environment and
make sure that visitors are still aware that we're around, that
we're exciting and that we're vital," she says.
A big barrier for Derricks' team is helping consumers
differentiate between Cirque's shows. "One of the real challenges
we have is needing to flip the brand script in Vegas and emphasize
the show ahead of the Cirque brand," she says. After all, no two
productions are alike. "They all have very, very different
personalities," she says. "The thing that I've been working on
quite a bit is, How do you communicate that each show is the only
show you have to see?"
One strategy involves pulling back the curtain -- something
Cirque had previously been reluctant to do. "It's something that
our founder was very, very cautious about in the early days of
social media," she says. However, audience expectations have
changed, and social media is one marketing tool not to ignore. "So
we're trying to find ways to facilitate that via social media and
social content and by creating events in Las Vegas that are
complete behind-the-curtain experiences," she explains.
The show must go on -- again
Another strategy -- one that Derricks says she's most proud of
-- WAS to refresh one of its most popular shows: "The Beatles
LOVE." "I didn't completely understand until we were well into the
process that Cirque has never rebranded an existing show," Derricks
says. For "LOVE"'s tenth anniversary, Cirque refreshed the music,
show and visual identity of the production, recognizing that
advancements in tech over the last decade would enable an enhanced
experience. Derricks and her team reimagined the marketing program
"Cirque has always taken pride in its fusion of technology and
artistry," she says, "so it seemed very natural as the tenth
anniversary approached to rethink the staging, effects, and
imagery. The original show was very nostalgic. Today, it's more
colorful and, at the same time, showcases the fact that The Beatles
are as relevant today as they were in the 60s." For fans, the
revamp was a couldn't-miss.
Lastly, Derricks and her team seized the chance to use their
expertise to generate an additional source of income. "We've
actually created an entire line of business called SPARK that
serves as a learning laboratory for corporate teams," she says,
adding that this provides interactive business training and team
building with a customized curriculum. Companies like Adobe and
Google number among the participants. "It's both an amazing bucket
list moment and a chance to really learn about trust, team
building, operational excellence and customer service in a very
tangible way," Derricks says. "It's taking off like a rocket, and
has not only created a new way access the brand but also makes a
strong statement about who we are." In other words, Derricks' team
has Cirque Du Soleil primed and ready for 2017.