Deceased Poet becomes Signing Sensation at Belgian Book Fair

The ‘impossible signing sessions’, a stunt in which 8 world-renowned authors signed non-stop for 12 days

Every year the Antwerp Book Fair (Belgium) attracts throngs of people. For many people the literary event has gradually become a race ‘to score signatures’. This year online shop raised the bar even higher, with a series of signings by top international authors such as Nicci French, David Baldacci and Paula Hawkins. A stunt in which 8 authors sign non-stop for 12 days. Worthy of note: the late Flemish poet Paul van Ostaijen was also honoured in this way. wants to draw attention to genuine literary talent again with this campaign.


At the 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’.


Smart signing robot

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.”


Enthusiastic authors

Worthy of note: all the authors were highly enthusiastic participants in this project. What is more, Nicci Gerrard – Sean French’s partner – also recorded the announcement video. The ‘impossible signing sessions’ coincide with the 100-year commemoration of Paul van Ostaijen. The book ‘Music Hall’ was also reissued especially for this unique anniversary. also received cooperation from the Genootschap Paul van Ostaijen (Paul van Ostaijen Association) for the signing session. “We were keen straight away”, says Matthijs de Ridder. “Such a robot arm seemed the best way of representing Paul to us.”


1.5 minutes maximum

Anyone who wants to have their book signed can do so from 31 October until 11 November at the stand in hall 4. A signing session takes 1.5 minutes maximum and is completely free. 


Meanwhile the signing robot placed over a thousand signatures. The most popular writer turns out to be Paul Van Ostaijen. It appears that van Ostaijen is still the most popular author at the Belgian Book fair by 31.2%. 


Credits :

Client :

Contact : Niels Moes

Agency : DDB Brussels

CD : Peter Ampe & Odin Saillé

Creation : Danny Vissers

Ad & Copy: Tom Meijer & Silke Beurms 

Accounts : Francis Lippens & Romy Vierhouten

Strategy: Dominique Poncin, Jorian Vanvossel


Digital Design: Wieste De Ridder

Motion Design: Sven Verfaille

Producer: Stefanie Warreyn

PR: Kenn Van Lijsebeth

TV producer: Brigitte Verduyckt

DOP: Adrien Moormann


Design lab:

Thanks to: Matthijs de Ridder, Genootschap Paul van Ostaijen


Contact us
Kenn Van Lijsebeth DDB Brussels
Kenn Van Lijsebeth DDB Brussels
About DDB Brussels

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