Reinventing the Image of Belgium

Executive Summary

Belgium ‘Uniquely Phenomenal’ is an award-winning marketing programme funded by the federal government which, since 2017, has been promoting Belgian tourism. It generates desire to visit our ‘plat pays’ through the use of a distinctly Belgian, quirky, modest tonality and activation style.


The Chancellery of the Belgium Prime Minister searched for a partner to turn around the negative perception of Belgium as a result of the highly echoed terrorist attacks in 2016 which collaterally damaged the tourism industry and the country’s image. The proclaimed aim was to increase tourism, remind people of Belgium’s positive sides as well as attracting investors.


From the outset in 2017, the creative strategy for ‘Belgium. Uniquely Phenomenal’ has been built on very specific behavioural insights: Belgians are modest and they cultivate self-mockery. They are proud of their country’s treasures and talents but only in a very down to earth way. Belgians would rather laugh than brag.

The campaign has developed a very Belgian, very quirky tonality to convey the country’s appeal for tourists and investors. We have used humour and modesty to sell its attractions. The key campaign line was “99 reasons why Belgium is uniquely phenomenal. Because 100 would be a bit over the top.”

The campaign is skilfully advanced through a strategic bouquet of multiple types of media:

  • The website is the campaign hub as a creative gathering point for “99 reasons to visit Belgium – because 100 would be over the top”.
  • Facebook and Instagram are consistently used with crafted short video content carefully targeted at defined interest groups.
  • OOH is used at high traffic tourism locations in Belgium.
  • An extensive PR, influence & partnership program target foreign journalists in a bespoke way and influencers for leisure tourism
  • Events are organised in Belgium and in our targeted market.

Ogilvy Social Lab – Belgium, Uniquely Phenomenal


The most important statistic for our campaign is international visitors to Belgium: this number rose by 2,2% in the first 11 months of 2019. This mirrored the growth in 2018. This was a positive achievement in a difficult economic environment where, according to the World Tourism Barometer: “Uncertainty surrounding Brexit, geopolitical and trade tensions, and the global economic slowdown, which weighed on growth. 2019 was also the year of major shifts in the sector with the collapse of Thomas Cook and several low-cost airlines in Europe.”

Awareness and engagement outcomes:

  • Unique users reached = 15.703.941 v 2018 benchmark of 9.809.801 (62% above benchmark)
  • Positive sentiment = 59% v 25% in 2018 & 18% in 2017
  • Video views = 6.856.512 v benchmark of 4.896.667 video views (40% above benchmark)
  • 42,296 additional fans on social media sites (increase of 88%)
  • 165 press articles and 241 social network posts (versus 150 press articles and 101 posts influencers in 2018)
  • Increase in the % coverage of the campaign in the international press: 75 % in 2019 compared to 38 % in 2018 and 19% in 2017.

In 2018, the campaign stood out among 38 pan-European campaigns selected for the Euro Effie finals. It won a Bronze in the Government, Institutional & Recruitment category and a Silver in the Leisure & Entertainment category.

45 million

impressions on social media after 2 months

2.5 million

in earned media