US Creative Work of the Week: Empower helps Cirque du Soleil take over Chicago

Cirque du Soleil city mapping in Chicago

Cirque du Soleil is a spectacle in person, with wild visuals and some of the most amazing physical performers. For the Chicago debut of its show Volta, the theatrical producer looked to agency Empower to turn the city into a visually pleasing teaser and preview.

Empower and other local partners transformed Chicago’s most popular urban neighborhoods of Lakeview, West Loop and Wicker Park with a nightly series of public art projections interweaving scenes from the show with custom 3D art. A QR code then led people to the Cirque du Soleil’s ticketing page and street teams complemented efforts.

Helping build excitement and word-of-mouth, all experiential efforts paved the way for a grand celebration at 'Art on theMart,' which is billed as the largest permanent digital art projection in the world. This finale projected onto the entire 2.5-acre façade of 'Art on theMart.'

“We are celebrating art through art,” explained Hilary Burns, vice president and general manager of Empower’s Chicago office. “When done well, street art has the power to interrupt our daily commute with something beautiful, abstract or provocative.”

Cirque du Soleil is the first company to execute this type of street projection mapping in Chicago. Historically it’s only been activated in large commercial surface areas. Concepted by Empower, the agency partnered with Chicago Projection Mapping to produce three wheat paste-based installations in each neighborhood. The Cirque du Soleil Volta story was told in two parts. By day, the 2D black-and-white mural was in place, drawing the eye, but quickly becoming a part of daily life in the neighborhood. By night, the murals came to life with 3D illusion and animations.

For its ambitious projections and citywide intrigue, The Drum’s readers voted it the US Creative Work of the Week.

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