Belgian humour and derision, the best way to rebuild the image of Brussels around the world

30th Dec, 2015

In view of the events of the last few weeks and their impact on tourism and business in Brussels, took immediate action as it was essential to put in place a communication plan to reassure all the visitors.

The communication plan has been divided into 5 different stages:

1.      LEVEL 4 - INFORMING AND DOWNPLAYING, TVL and WBT together agreed to post a “LOL cat” video on the social networks from 25 November 2015 onwards. In just a few hours, the video was shared numerous times and was picked up by all the national press (> 700,000 views).

All communications from the Minister-President about how the situation was evolving were relayed via email (2,700 journalists including 1,500 international and 1,000 professionals in the sector), as well as on the landing page. They also kept up to date a list of the places that were open and those that were still closed. kept all its tourism partners up to speed with how the situation was evolving.

A dedicated contact person was put in place at to respond to the concerns of tourists and industry professionals.


“Brussels is safe!”

They communicated internationally the fact that, after a few difficult days, life had resumed as before and everything was working normally again in Brussels. The threat level had been maintained at level 3 to guarantee security.

Campaign: a major campaign was implemented on the social networks in order to reach as many people as possible, with photos showing that life had gone back to normal in Brussels. Tourist sites and public transport had reopened; there were people in the streets, etc. It was essential to reassure visitors about the situation, in addition to the press releases they put out.

Facebook ad campaign: 497,000 people reached

Via the press: 270 journalists. landing page with up-to-date content about how the situation was evolving.


A campaign of quirky visuals on the social networks sharing quotes about Brussels from internationally known public figures, acting as ambassadors.

Message: #relaxinbrussels

Circulation: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Display, Adwords

Target countries: France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and USA via email: 1,000 professionals in the sector

Result: Facebook ad reached 367,000 people 

The objective was also for the inhabitants of Brussels to start using the hashtag #relaxinbrussels so that the message reached the most people possible on the social networks (as happened with #brusselslockdown and the “LOL cat” pictures and videos). 



After reassuring and convincing the public that life had gone back to normal in Brussels, it was time to entice them to come back to capital of Belgium. To achieve that, in collaboration with their partners in the sector, launched two competitions in mid- December:


Sign up to win a trip to Brussels to celebrate your birthday!

Holidays for 10 people (10 nights in a hotel, 10 dinners at the TRAM Experience and 10 Brussels Cards)


Share selfies of you visiting cultural sites in Brussels and win a year of culture in Brussels.

From 14 December 2015 to 31 January 2016, going out in Brussels has never been so tempting.

Go wild at a show or concert, go to the theatre and the cinema, open the doors of museums, galleries or cultural centres and take a photo of yourself at every cultural site you can in Brussels. The selfies that get the most likes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will win a year of culture in Brussels.

Via the press: 2,700 journalists (1,500 international)

Via email: 1,000 professionals in the sector

Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Display, Adwords

Target countries: France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, USA


Beginning of January 2016: have hired a communications agency to create a major international campaign. They thought the best way to show that things have returned to normal, and to encourage visitors to want to come back to Brussels, was through typically Belgian humour and derision.

The following campaigns will be implemented:

Press: A press release

Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Display, Adwords

Target countries: France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, USA

International communications:

Beyond the social networks campaign, and taking into account the magnitude of the lockdown phase in the eyes of the world and its repercussions on the tourism sector in Brussels, it is vital to put in place an international communications campaign. The message will stay the same: #relaxinbrussels. They have to rebuild the image of Brussels around the world. The neighbouring countries will be top priority (stations, press, etc). They will rely on the expertise of their local networks to help them implement this campaign. Here too, it is of paramount importance that all the Brussels tourism actors disseminate the same message.

They also have to be able to split the campaign into different themes, in order to reach different clusters (conferences, leisure, etc).

Total budget: €500,000


Total reach of our Twitter and Facebook accounts: 7,259,407 people

Reach of the ad campaigns: 3,063,028 people

Communication plan implemented by


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