The Deconstructed Brief
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Human Monuments

HUMAN MONUMENTS

Brand: Thalys
Agency: ROSAPARK

Challenge

Brussels serves as the main source of tourism income for the country of Belgium; however, the city finds itself struggling to attract visitors. According to the Belgian Tourist Office of Brussels/Wallonia, Brussels is battling to recover from recent terrorist attacks and finds itself in the shadows of more popular European cities, such as Paris, London and Amsterdam. Industry statistics show a decline across almost all sectors: leisure air travel (-7%), leisure hotel arrivals (-21%), leisure overnight stays (-25%) and hotel occupancy (-14%). In order to spur recovery and foster growth, the city needed to find a unique element that differentiated it from all other cities in the world.

Rationale:

ROSAPARK used holographic technology to create statues of Brussels’ citizens at Mont des Arts, the cultural center of the city. Visitors enter a booth and have their images captured for holographic projection on a pedestal above a plaque that reads, “In Brussels, the real monuments are its people.” The final result is a 5-meter-high, three-dimensional, statuesque silhouette.

Cities share any number of common features: popular restaurants, beautiful architecture, inspiring art — the list goes on. The one element they don’t share? Their people. Each population is unique, imbuing the city with its own, specific culture. These cultural stewards create the city’s identity — something tourists cannot experience in any other capacity. Using the city’s people as its ambassadors allows Brussels to put its best foot forward, in the form of its most passionate and heartfelt representatives.

The “Human Monuments” campaign embodies Thalys’s core objectives and identity. The French train company uses its storied “Welcome to our world” signature to invite travelers to “discover cities as remarkable destinations with a different vision, far from clichés and off the beaten path.”

Key insight

People are your greatest tourist attraction.

What they told Adweek:

“The result was impressive — not just the technical aspects, but the pride of Brussels’ residents, of being ambassadors for their city,” said Jean-Francois Sacco, co-founder of ROSAPARK. “There was an incredible emotion that evening, this symbolism in the city that was more alive than ever.”

Lessons to be learned:

 

  • Be unique. —  Traditional travel advertisements feature sprawling scenery and expansive cityscapes. Thalys used a “Holobooth” to transform one of the most mundane and overlooked aspects of a city into something much more extraordinary. The booth’s capabilities captured a full, 360-degree likeness of a person and rendered them in holographic form in two minutes to create the five-meter high silhouettes.
     
  • Get them involved. — The holobooth technology operated by Thalys was capable of capturing a subject’s likeness and rendering a hologram in two minutes flat. During its three-day installation, the agency rendered over 500 statues. Thousands of viewers came to observe, participate and post about the experience during its installation.
     
  • Orchestrate a feeling. — Thalys celebrated the city’s welcoming atmosphere by highlighting an “insider” element of its culture - and who better to sell the city than those call it home? Cities rarely have control over the feelings they create; however, by inspiring the city’s residents through bold action, ROSAPARK engineered a sense of pride and confidence in their salesmen.
     
  • Create an unbelievable experience. —  The brand created an inviting experience that tourists have to visit to understand. Its ephemeral and participatory nature encourage physical visitation. Pictures and videos struggle to encompass the scope of the campaign and the feeling of participants’ delight at their renderings. Instead, as the campaign suggests, tourists have to visit to fully understand the experience