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DDB Brussels Helps Deceased Poet Become Signing Sensation at Belgian Book Fair

Agency creates robotic arm to mimic Paul van Ostaijen's signature

DDB Brussels Helps Deceased Poet Become Signing Sensation at Belgian Book Fair

At a hugely popular book fair in the Belgian city of Antwerp, numerous signings are the focal point every year. Fans meet their favourite authors there, children their comic-strip heroes and sports fans their idols. For too, the literary event is a repeated highlight that is worked towards for months. As an online bookshop, the book fair is the only time when they actually meet their customers. So they want to make that contact unforgettable. This year they did so with the ‘impossible signing sessions’, a stunt in which 8 world-renowned authors signed non-stop for 12 days. Bol managed to involve names such as Nicci French, Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Andy Griffiths (The Treehouse Books), David Baldacci (The Last Mile), David Lagercrantz (Millennium 4), Robert Harris (Imperium) and – perhaps most impressively of all – Paul van Ostaijen. The Flemish poet and modernist prose writer died in 1928 but is still in our collective memory as the iconic author of the typographic poem ‘Boem Paukeslag’.

In collaboration with the Antwerp Research & Design Lab Beyond, DDB Brussels created a technological signing robot which analysed, parsed and then reconstructed all the signatures and manuscripts of the famous authors. A unique workflow was devised whereby the signing arm not only mimics signatures automatically and accurately, but is also able to leave personal messages. In total, an intensive test phase took four weeks. Kevin Verelst, co-founder and Art Director of Beyond explains, “The greatest challenge was above all to imitate the writing as faithfully as possible. In the process, it was essential to completely fine-tune four important elements. Namely, the choice of pen, the angle of the writing, the pressure of the pen on the paper and the writing speed.”

Creative Agency

Creative Agency: DDB Brussels

Creative Director: Peter Ampe & Odin Saillé

Copywriter: Tom Meijer & Silke Beurms

Producer: Stefanie Warreyn

Designer: Sven Verfaille

Creatives: Danny Vissers

Account Management: Francis Lippens & Romy Vierhouten

Digital Designer: Wieste De Ridder

Strategy: Dominique Poncin, Jorian Vanvossel

TV Producer: Brigitte Verduyckt

Production Company

DOP: Adrien Moormann

Digital Production Company

App/Digital Production:

Category: Books , Publications and media

Genre: Creative technology