Holographic Statues of 500 Locals Help Boost Both Tourism and Morale in Brussels

Showing off the people, not just the sights

The hologram 'statues' were created by agency Rosapark and train operator Thalys. Thalys

The marketing industry’s recent advertising-as-statuary trend is on full display in this unorthodox tourism stunt from Belgium

Last month, thanks to advanced holographic imaging, 500 residents of Brussels were turned into virtual 3-D statues in a matter of minutes and put on public exhibition for a tourism campaign from European train operator Thalys.

In the wake of 2016’s terrorism attacks, visits to the Belgian capital—already struggling to compete for tourist dollars against Paris, London and Amsterdam—have begun to slide. To help reverse the decline, Thalys agency Rosapark chose to spotlight the friendly, open vibe of the city’s population.

Over the course of three days in March, the team operated a “holobooth” in the highly trafficked Mont des Arts cultural district of central Brussels. The technology was capable of capturing a subject’s likeness and rendering a hologram in two minutes flat.

The resulting 5-meter-high images were projected onto a stele (or monument), above an inscription reading, “In Brussels, the real monuments are its people.” About 3,000 visitors viewed the outdoor installation. In fact, the effort seems to be as much about boosting the morale of the locals as it is about promoting tourism.

“We targeted residents of the three countries in Thalys’s network — France, the Netherlands and Germany — relaying the event through social media,” says Rosapark executive creative director and co-founder Jean-Francois Sacco. “Usually, promo films for cities focus on the city’s activities or well known sites, but we wanted to show off its people.”

Like similar “statuesque” installations from other marketers, the Brussels initiative employed a real-world presence to drive social sharing and press coverage. The most famous example, of course, is State Street Global Advisors’ “Fearless Girl” in New York, with more recent efforts including concrete dogs placed around Barcelona to boost pet adoption, and London’s striking highrise-rooftop-based anti-suicide campaign.

“Statues are a pertinent outdoor media, that’s for sure,” says Sacco. Their physical presence in public spaces, and our potent associations with such monuments, he says, “give a strength to different ideas” that transcends and amplifies traditional advertising.

Campaign: Human Monuments

Client : Thalys
Laetitia Deville, Pauline Rémond, Barbara Bruynooghe, David Schoffers, Kim Masselin

Agency: Rosapark
Co-founders : Jean-Patrick Chiquiar, Gilles Fichteberg and Jean-François Sacco
ECD : Gilles Fichteberg and Jean-François Sacco
General director: Delphine Drutel
Group account director: Aurore Cornen
Account manager: Camille Hemet
Account executive: Tristan Blondeau
Copywriter: Nicolas Gadesaude
Art director: Julien Saurin
TV producer: Thomas Laurent

Production: Sovage
Producer: Willy Morrencé
Production director: Lorette Delva
Director: Julian Nodolwsky
DOP: Nicolas de St Quentin
Post production: Firm

Hologram: Orbis
Director: Yvan Touhami
Account manager: Anthony Damario

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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.