Digital, DM, Case study The Impossible Signing Session by DDB Brussels

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The Impossible Signing Session

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Industry Online Retail & E-stores
Media Digital, Interactive & Mobile, Direct marketing, Case study
Market Belgium
Agency DDB Brussels
Creative Director Peter Ampe, Odin Saillé
Art Director Tom Meijer
Copywriter Silke Beurms
Designer Sven Verfaille, Wietse De Ridder, Marlène Wautot
Released November 2016


Cannes Lions 2017
PR Practices & Specialisms: Live Shows / Concerts / Festivals Gold Lion

Credits & Description

Title: The Impossible Signing Session
Agency: Ddb Brussels
Brand: Bol.Com
Country: Belgium
Entrant Company: Ddb Brussels
Advertising Agency: Ddb Brussels
Production Company: Ddb Brussels / Beyond.Io, Antwerp
Pr Manager: Kenn Van Lijsebeth (Ddb Brussel)
Art Buyer: Brigitte Verduyckt (Ddb Brussel)
Head Of Strategy: Dominique Poncin (Ddb Brussel)
Business Director: Francis Lippens (Ddb Brussels)
Creative Director: Peter Ampe (Ddb Brussels)
Creative Director: Odin Saille (Ddb Brussel)
Media Manager: Jorian Vanvossel (Ddb Brussel)
Designer: Sven Verfaille (Ddb Brussel)
Copywriter: Silke Beurms (Ddb Brussel)
Account Executive: Romy Vierhouten (Ddb Brussel)
Designer: Wietse De Ridder (Ddb Brussel)
Dop Lighting Cameraman: Adrien Moormann (Ddb Brussel) (
Art Director: Tom Meijer (Ddb Brussel)
Designer: Marlène Wautot (Ddb Brussel)
Dtp: Ben Hiffe (Ddb Brussel)
Concept Provider: Danny Vissers (Ddb Brussel)
Date: November, 2016
The Antwerp Book Fair is one of the most popular and talked about events in Belgium, attracting more than 150.000 visitors in 10 days. For many of them, the literary event has gradually become a race to score signatures from authors who are present for book signings at the fair.Being the most popular online bookshop of Belgium, the main objective for is to create buzz around their presence at an event that is dedicated to and aimed at traditional book retailers & publishers.With the importance of book signings in mind, we decided to link the innovative character of the 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.
Primetime news on all major Belgian tv - and radiostations. Articles in both quality and popular press. Resulting in 24,7 million impressions. 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: achieved 5% more brand awareness, and their turnover in book sales increased with 40%.
With ‘The Impossible Signing Sessions’ we made extremely remarkable in a rather unusual setting for an e-commerce giant. By offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Antwerp Book Fair, we managed not only to bring a digital bookstore to life, but also the memory of one of the most influential Belgian writers of the 20th century. This resulted in a massive press attention for the fair, making the the talk of the town and even turning it into a main stimulus for book enthusiasts to visit the fair.
Before the book fair: personalized DM with signed book and press launch. At book fair: press release, interviews and personal tour. Not in the least, the software at the booth allowed people to write their own messages and dedications in the author’s handwriting, which gave visitors an emotional souvenir and created a new physical channel to influence public dialogue.After book fair:press release with results.
Campaign Description:
To honour the legendary writer, we created ‘The Impossible Signing Sessions’. Meaning that, with the help of technology, van Ostaijen was brought back to life for one last book signing session. This allowed to position itself as an expert in books, close to the readers, while at the same time building on the image of the brand as an innovative player in the industry of book retailing. By carefully analyzing the writer’s manuscripts, we reproduced van Ostaijen’s handwriting, transforming it into a usable font. Next, a robotic arm was adjusted and programmed over the course of three months until it could perfectly duplicate his handwriting and signature. This way Paul van Ostaijen’s digital alter ego could personally sign the re-issue of his volume Music Hall - published exactly 100 years ago - at’s booth. Allowing thousands of visitors at the Antwerp Book Fair an exclusive opportunity to get.
In order to get the attention of the Belgian literary press, we sent a signed copy of Paul Van Ostaijen’s book days before the fair to all major journalists. Along with a personal message, we invited them to explore the very first signing robot. The Direct Mail immediately received press attention on - and offline. But the real PR-momentum took place at the book fair itself. TV, radio and paper press made it their highlight news, resulting in an impressive mediawave. Experts came to visit the robot and gave their opinion. People queued for hours to receive their very own signed copy.At the end of the book fair, we gave the press an overview of the most striking results. And again, this content resulted in dozens of articles. Making this campaign the biggest PR initiative at the book fair.