2017 Promo & Activation


Category A04. Retail, e-Commerce, Restaurants & Fast Food Chains
Media Placement MEC BELGIUM Brussels, BELGIUM
Production 2 BEYOND.IO Antwerp, BELGIUM
Name Company Position
Tom Meijer DDB Brussels Art Director
Silke Beurms DDB Brussels Copywriter
Peter Ampe DDB Brussels Creative Director
Odin Saille DDB Brussels Creative Director
Romy Vierhouten DDB Brussels Account Executive
Francis Lippens DDB Brussels Business Director
Jorian Vanvossel DDB Brussels Strategic Planner
Sven Verfaille DDB Brussels Designer
Wietse De Ridder DDB Brussels Designer
Danny Vissers DDB Brussels Concept provider
Benjamin Hiffe DDB DTP
Anner Tiete Beyond.io Developer
Kevin Verelst Beyond.io Developer
Elke Eriksson LEWIS Account Manager
Frederic Van de Meulebroucke LEWIS Account Executive
Morgane Lannoy Mec Global Communication Adviser

The Campaign

A book signing session always has something magical, as one stroke of the pen makes your copy a unique one. But what if the author of your favorite work has already passed away? With the importance of book signings in mind, we decided to link the innovative character of the bol.com to a tribute for Paul van Ostaijen - one of Belgium’s most influential but long gone authors, and celebrate the 100th birthday and re-issue of his masterpiece Music-Hall.

Campaign Success

With the help of technology, van Ostaijen was brought back to life for one last book signing session. We reproduced van Ostaijen’s handwriting and a robotic arm was adjusted and programmed until it could perfectly duplicate his handwriting and signature.  We carefully analyzed Paul’s manuscripts, transforming his handwriting into a font. The only robot arm which could imitate those delicate writing movements was a device normally used for medical purposes. That arm was then tuned for three months until it mastered four different aspects of writing: pen choice, writing angle, writing speed and pressure. The software also allowed for people to write their own messages in the author’s handwriting, which gave the visitors an emotional souvenir and made every copy a one-of-a-kind bol.com souvenir. With the action, bol.com showed they know the passions of book fans.

Describe the success of the promotion with both client and consumer including some quantifiable results

The quality of the imitations was praised by experts and journalists and made the Impossible Signing Sessions spread like wildfire with 24,7 million media impressions. The robot arm signed non-stop for twelve days during the Antwerp Book Fair, resulting in 4119 autographs and 15791 words. As the star of the event, Paul Van Ostaijen even became the most signing author of the entire festival with 1076 autographs. But most importantly: bol.com achieved 5% more brand awareness, and their turnover in book sales increased with 40%.

Explain why the method of promotion was most relevant to the product or service

Buying a book online, takes away the tactile charm you experience when picking out a book in a traditional bookstore. And for an online bookstore, opportunities to get directly “in touch” with customers are sparse. Meaning that when Belgium’s largest literary event takes place - with more than 150.000 visitors in ten days - it’s time to shine. With ‘The Impossible Signing Sessions’ we made bol.com extremely remarkable in a rather unusual setting for an e-commerce giant. We managed to bring a digital bookstore to life by offering customers a highly personal interaction with it, through a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

'The Impossible Signing Sessions' made bol.com extremely relevant in a rather unusual setting for an e-commerce giant. The main idea of the signing sessions was then supported by a campaign on multiple mass-media platforms (radio, outdoor, print and digital) to trigger more people to go visit the bol.com website and the stand at the Antwerp book fair.