Canadian Interview: Mario D'Amico

Mario D'Amico, the executive VP of marketing communications for Cirque du Soleil, spoke to PRWeek about why PR is so ingrained in the Montreal-based entertainment company's communications, its embrace of social media and how it reacted to the criticism of its Criss Angel Believe production in Las Vegas.

Mario D'Amico, the executive VP of marketing communications for Cirque du Soleil, spoke to PRWeek about why PR is so ingrained in the Montreal-based entertainment company's communications, its embrace of social media and how it reacted to the criticism of its Criss Angel Believe production in Las Vegas.

Cirque president and CEO Daniel Lamarre is a former journalist and PR practitioner. How has he impacted Cirque's communications?
Daniel Lamarre is a very savvy communicator and knows the importance of good PR especially in the competitive world of entertainment. He has brought that flair to Cirque du Soleil and has strengthened the role communications plays in the company. Cirque is fortunate to benefit from very strong word of mouth due to the quality of the shows we produce. PR has always been important to Cirque because we are a creative content provider and our productions conjure up so many images in people's minds. It's the kind of experience that is best translated through PR, through organic communications and through testimonials [versus advertising]. So PR is, and always will be, the fabric of our communications.

Cirque has about 18 shows in production right now. How does Cirque organize its communications department internationally to take advantage of PR?
Cirque has a corporate PR department charged with overseeing the international launches of our new productions and also managing issues that are closely related to the brand and the company. On an operational level, PR is overseen by three marketing entities: one in the Americas and Europe, one in Asia-Pacific and one in Las Vegas.

Speaking of Las Vegas, the Criss Angel Believe production has received some bad reviews. How did Cirque react to that criticism?
Criss Angel Believe is a new venture for Cirque and has greatly broadened our horizons. Criss Angel, himself, with his very distinct style has a strong following as does Cirque. So whenever we branch out and take risks, we expect audiences and critics to react.

Cirque's website has won a number of awards, and recently has added social media components like a Facebook page. How do you see social media fitting into communications?
Social media allows us to interact with our audiences and create multi-layered communications. They also allow us to expand our demographics to skew a younger audience that is cultured and interested in the inner workings of the company, its artists and creators. Today it's really all about peer references and social media are a key part of this trend.

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