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Agency Profile: Sid Lee Paris

Posted on January 18, 2012 and read 6,407 times

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brianna Agency Profile: Sid Lee ParisBrianna Graves
Operations Manager, Writer
IHAVEANIDEA

It is hard to believe, but IHAVEANIDEA has never profiled a Parisian agency. To right this wrong, I enthusiastically volunteered myself to meet our first: Sid Lee Paris. My personal obsession with Paris may or may not have had something to do with my enthusiasm… at first. But when I left, my enthusiasm had everything to do with Sid Lee Paris’ people, its work and its leadership.

The Sid Lee Paris atelier sits in the second arrondissement of the City of Light, in the middle of an up-and-coming neighborhood near the famed rue Montorgueil. The building that houses Sid Lee—its second location on rue du Sentier since the birth of the Paris atelier, in fact— sits smack-dab in the middle of the textile district known as the Sentier. Not far away are the Paris Opéra, the former stock exchange (known in French as the Paris Bourse) and the Opéra-Comique.

I spent a day exploring the rue Montorgueil (and its restaurants), the Sentier district and of course, the Sid Lee Paris atelier. Achieving a level of hipster chic that Williamsburg, Brooklyn would work years to impersonate, the Paris atelier is authentic, organic, raw and yet sophisticated, as only Parisians can be.

I soaked up every moment. After all, I’ve got Paris fever and the only prescription is more Sid Lee Paris.

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Atelier: a French word, which translates to “workshop.” I don’t know if the ever-pervasive advertising of the holiday season has yet to leave my head, but the thought of a workshop conjures up an image of an old man with a white beard whittling away amidst a bevy of little elves.

But at Sid Lee Paris, the atelier is more of an artisan’s workshop. Instead of an old white-bearded man, there is Creative Director and Partner Sylvain Thirache. And rather than a bevy of elves, Thirache is surrounded by a band of specialists from architects, to illustrators, to web designers to typographers. There are also copywriters and account managers, all working to bring fresh creativity to clients including Ubisoft, Coca-Cola, Vitamin Water, Adidas, 1664 and Carlsberg.

The atelier is an inviting space. From the courtyard outside, an open glass façade shows off the office within and after passing through an entryway, the atelier opens up into a bright two-storied open floor plan. A second-floor balcony wraps entirely around the office, overlooking a huge banquet table on the ground floor that stretches from one end of the office to the other. A greenhouse-like sunroof extends over nearly the entire ceiling, allowing the light of day and the elements of the outside world to penetrate the workshop. The Sid Lee Paris artisans sit at desks around the border of the banquet table downstairs and the perimeter of the balcony above. A foosball table, kitchen and garden terrace complement the upstairs workspace. The space shows signs of projects en process, with agency work not only on the walls, but popping out everywhere against the black and white décor. Furniture, designed by one of the Sid Lee Paris artisans, completes the office with a funky flair.

Sid Lee Paris has grown organically and proportionally to its business development since March 2009, from just one person to the more than 25 people who now comprise the team. Growth is kept purposely proportional to ensure that both clients and staff are properly taken care of. Both are invited to enjoy the space as much as they desire– clients are as welcome to come and work within the walls and under the sunroof as the staff (and many do). Each client visitor is both welcomed as a guest, and invited to make themselves entirely at home. The Sid Lee Paris artisans are provided with resources to feel comfortable and taken care of as well, from dinner after hours to a safe taxi ride home on a late night.

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For every “former ad guy” or gal at Sid Lee Paris, there are just as many who don’t come from an advertising background. Sid Lee Paris welcomes untapped perspectives from other creative disciplines among its ranks, so creativity does not materialize via the traditional copywriter-art director team. Sid Lee Paris’ success is reliant on its distinctly blended ideas, which is why each new project calls for the custom-assembly of a team at the intersection of need and talent. Teams constantly blend and change, and according to the Sid Lee Paris artisans, every day is a new adventure, every task is approached with fresh eyes and the rules change often to ensure that people are doing what they do best to apply their skills in new and fresh ways. To some degree, that makes every project a challenge, but not one that any artisan at Sid Lee Paris would back down from. The only things not welcome in the atelier are ego and an agenda.

Though Sid Lee Paris is very reflective of Paris and French culture, it is proud to be a part of the Sid Lee family. To give the band of creatives a common page to work from, all newbies at Sid Lee attend an internal training program called Sid Lee University. The courses are also available online to staffers on Sid Lee’s social business platform. In fact, the Sid Lee Parisians just returned from two days immersed in Sid Lee University with their peers in Amsterdam, learning, bonding, celebrating and competing in a Paris v. Amsterdam office soccer match. The competition may have been fierce, but fun was the name of the game.

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The eccentric crew at the Paris atelier does not take itself too seriously, but they are very serious about the quality of the work. The work coming out of Sid Lee Paris has a distinctly urban esthetic, perhaps derived from Thirache’s early days as a tagger, but definitely tuned in to the most current of culture and technology. This cultural currency is what drives results for Sid Lee Paris clients.

When Adidas Original wanted to reach out and make a deeper, more meaningful connection with teens in France, Sid Lee Paris had the solution. Recognizing Adidas Original’s European roots and the fact that many consumers wear the brand solely for its urban appeal (and have never played a sport in their life), Sid Lee Paris leveraged the style factor of the most popular athletic brand in France. The “All Event” celebrated and dovetailed with the Adidas “All In” campaign. The “All Event” Facebook app allowed a diverse spectrum of participants to design their own dream event, from celebrity to venue, to food, drink and music, reflecting individual tastes in art, music and fashion. Adidas and Sid Lee Paris brought one such event, including every dream-derived detail from a limo ride accompanied by attractive women, to the chosen locale and celebrity, to life for a lucky winner in Paris and Marseille.

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Sid Lee Paris also reminded us that in today’s modern world, the idea of our dancing feet as music makers is not exclusive to tap-dancers. It applies to b-boys and b-girls as well. Bringing footstep music-making into the digital realm, Sid Lee designed the technology for Adidas’ MEGA shoe line in collaboration with French breakdancers such as the famously talented Les Twins. Sid Lee Paris worked to ensure that the idea did not only sound cool, but that it worked in reality as well as it did in concept. A wireless system records sound through the dancers footwork, and then links back to a computer that builds the tracks. Word of the Megalizer shoe exploded throughout the internet among dancers and sneakerheads stunned by the potential of the new technology.

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But Adidas has not been the only recipient of Sid Lee Paris’ innovation. When La Gaite Lyrique museum opened, the new “Parisian centre of digital culture,” Sid Lee Paris was charged with bringing the heart of La Gaite Lyrique’s mission and spirit to life. Existing, or aiming to exist, at the most current crossroad of technology, art and digital culture, La Gaite Lyrique displays the potential of new media. Sid Lee Paris took to the streets, using the capability of the latest in digital technology and the arts to captivate Parisian civilians and pique their interest in exploring and supporting the new museum.

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Day-to-day client work at Sid Lid Paris involves bringing so many engaging ideas to life, you might think the artisans would be satiated. But where creativity overflows, there is the Sid Lee Collective, the agency’s “cultural and commercial incubator.” Sid Lee finances employee ideas and projects born of personal inspiration, which for Sid Lee Paris meant taking to the streets of London to create “Blind Spot,” turning urban landscapes into works of art.

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No matter the success of the work – and there has been much success in the past three years – you will not see Sid Lee Paris singing its own praises from the rooftops. They will, of course, graciously accept acknowledgement from others in the industry, but patting itself on the back is just not Sid Lee Paris’ style.

Besides, why look back when there is so much to look forward to? The future at Sid Lee Paris is as sunny as the light pouring in through its greenhouse roof. And as the sun set on my visit to Sid Lee Paris, they showed me how a Parisian work day wraps up.

Once the work is complete and pencils are set down (okay fine, or Macs are shut down), the Sid Lee Paris crew sticks around to unwind together. Friends stop by and the crack of foosball games and a bottle of red wine begins, as they gather to discuss the day, the work and above all, la vie.

And the one thing I can assure you from my vantage point on the couch at the Sid Lee Paris atelier, a glass of French vin rouge in my hand? La vie est belle.

 





  • http://infopub.blogspot.com/ jean julien AKA IPUB

    wow what a great presentation thx ! Sid Lee Paris rocks.

  • http://twitter.com/SaturnProject | Brianna |

    Thanks Jean! It does rock.


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