Tech in Action: Cirque du Soleil combines print and AR

Working with Quebecor, a character from the company's show was brought to life by scanning pages of a newspaper.

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Cirque du Soleil has partnered with two Quebecor-owned newspapers to encourage readers to use augmented reality (AR) to get a taste of Cirque’s upcoming touring production.

After receiving their Saturday editions of  Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec on March 16, readers could use the publication’s mobile app (called J5) to scan a page and see a 3D animation of Monsieur Fleur, one of the characters from Alegría, along with a recording of the show’s theme. At the end of the animation, users would be served a link to purchase tickets for the show.

Alegria is one of Cirque du Soleil’s longest-running touring productions, and is set to return to Montreal this spring and Toronto in the fall, with a one-month engagement set for Gatineau, Que., in August. Magdalena Pienkowska, senior marketing manager at Cirque du Soleil, says combining innovation with creativity “was a perfect fit” for its marketing approach for the most recent production of the show, which has utilized things like livestreams on Facebook.

According to numbers provided by Quebecor, the execution drove a 30% increase in traffic for the J5 app compared to Saturdays in the previous month, its busiest day since Le Journal de Montréal launched the app in 2015. The AR pages were scanned nearly 300,000 times, with users spending an average of 4.5 minutes within the experiences.

The J5 app – which has traditionally been a platform for consuming content from Le Journal de Montréal – was updated to support AR and 3D functions ahead of the activation. Mathieu Turbide, VP of digital content at Quebecor, points out that leading publications such as The New York Times have previously launched AR content within its pages, and claims Quebecor papers are the first to do so within the Quebec market.