Top 5 place marketing campaigns [Belgian Edition]

by Basiel

Creative place marketing campaigns can be found in every corner. There are a few trendsetters in Belgium who have fully understood this concept. This blog gives you and overview of the best place marketing campaigns in Belgium and will inspire you for your next campaign.

Place marketing in Belgium

1. Antwerp

The city of Antwerp is currently the most successful when it comes to place marketing in Belgium. The ‘Atypical Antwerp’ campaign is one of the best-known campaigns in Belgium. This action is aimed at 4 different target groups (inhabitants, visitors, companies and students) and shows what the DNA of Antwerp is.

But, what is so Atypical about the city? The harbor town can distinguish itself from other cities by some of the advantages it has to offer. It positions itself as a city that is a pleasant place to live, relax, study, work and invest in.

The campaign started after several studies had shown that Antwerp was not so well known around the world. The city on the Scheldt realised that the view of the world on Antwerp is decisive for how their target audiences look up to Antwerp. As a result, Atypical Antwerp was created to put the port city on the international map.

Atypical Antwerp was the name of a campaign with various actions. Examples are the oldest skyscraper in Europe that had to provide a place for young entrepreneurs, shopping in buildings that would be museums somewhere else and a train station that won prizes for its beauty. All these actions ensured a successful place marketing policy for the diamond city.

Would you like to know more about the activities in Antwerp? Make sure you check this website

Video of Atypical Antwerp:


Antwerp (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


2. Ghent

A city that should certainly not be missing from this list is Ghent. Globally is expected that 67% of the population will live in urban areas by 2050. Due to this increasing urbanisation, the city of Artevelde realised that a good place marketing strategy was needed. By positioning itself as an attractive and inspiring city, Ghent wants to attract and retain its residents, visitors, bulbous people and companies.

Discover Ghent is a campaign that should arouse curiosity among the target groups of the city. "Ghent, so much city", a photo book by Tom D'haenens was one of the marketing tools to show how beautiful Ghent is. Knowledge and innovation, culture, urbanisation, climate and child-friendliness are important topics of the campaign.

In order to promote itself, the city sets up a lot of campaigns every year. For example, the 'light festival' and the Gentse Feesten (a local music festival). They also organise local competitions for their inhabitants. For instance, a competition on who the most remarkable inhabitant of Ghent is. Further, the city is also the location for a lot of popular TV programmes.

The accumulation of all these actions results in an impactful place marketing campaign, and put Ghent on the second place in this ranking.

Discover everything Ghent has to offer here.

Video of Ghent:


Ghent (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


3. Roeselare

Roeselare is one of the best cities in Belgium when it comes to creativity in place marketing. #VANRSL was a campaign aimed at the inhabitants of Roeselare with the purpose of making the inhabitants proud of their city. This campaign also consists of various actions. For example, a song was written entitled 'Wieder zin van Roeselare' which means 'We're from Roeselare', and its clip even won a prize at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards for its originality. The music video shows a lot of different images of Roeselare and shows what it looks like to live in that city.

Video of #VANRSL:

The campaign did not stop with a song but had several parts. For example, more actions were set up specifically aimed at children and sports enthusiasts, and the necessary attention is paid to the climate.

In addition to these campaigns, there was a ‘bench’ campaign in which the inhabitants could buy a bench for €88 and put it in front of their house in order create more interaction between neighbours.

One of the most important parts of the campaign was organised with merchandise. The inhabitants could buy merchandise from their city with the inscription '#VANRSL'. The branded clothing action was a great success and made the residents become ambassadors of their city. The T-shirts were the perfect starter for a fascinating conversation with another person about Roeselare.

#VANRSL is a creative campaign with one goal: to make everyone proud of Roeselare. Would you like to know more about this campaign? Then check this website


Roeselare (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


4. Ostend

The city of Ostend positions itself as ‘the city by the sea’. A slogan that the coastal city has been using for almost 10 years. With this slogan they want to make clear that they are the only real seaside city. This combined with all the cultural activities in the city, Ostend is very strongly positioned.

With its place marketing campaigns, the seaside city wants to appeal mainly to visitors, inhabitants and companies. For each of them, successful campaigns were set up under the famous slogan.

An example of a successful action was a video that went viral on the internet. Ostend wanted to lure the citizens of Ghent to the coast and decided to make a video adapted to the inhabitants of Ghent. In the video Jan Matthys, a well-known and sympathetic person from Ghent, promoted Ostend in a funny manner.

Next to this, Ostend had also understood that merchandise is an absolute must in a contemporary policy. They have used the merchandise to reach 2 different target groups.

First, they wanted the residents to express their pride by selling sweaters and beanies. The people of Ostend loved the merchandise and bought it in large numbers. On the other hand, the city also wanted to attract more visitors in the winter. Every tourist who came during this period received a pair of socks as a gift. A fun action that turned into a big success.

Ostend knows better than anyone other city that place marketing does not stop with one action. They see city marketing as a long-term player and still focus on this topic. Recently, they have launched #LoveOostende with various gifs that can be shared on social media.

Would you like to know more about the activities in Ostend? Check this website.


Ostend (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


5. Knokke

Ostend may position itself as the city by the sea. They are not the only city by the coast with a good place marketing policy. A few beaches further on, Knokke-Heist is also setting up campaigns. The coastal city has been investing in place marketing for many years. Knokke focuses on visitors, inhabitants and companies.

The campaigns range from the international fireworks festival on the beach to a light festival. In addition, art, shopping, the sea and gastronomy are also trump cards to attract their target audiences.

A successful action by the city took place on Valentine's Day. A campaign was set up to highlight the local merchant. The classic plastic bags were replaced by unique tote bags in the theme of Valentine's Day. For the shoppers it turned out to be a nice gift. The tote bags can still be spotted on the streets.

The target groups of Knokke have become ambassadors because of the different actions. Make sure you check out their website.


Knokke-Heitst (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


The top 5 cities with the best place marketing campaigns:

  1. Antwerp
  2. Ghent
  3. Roeselare
  4. Ostend
  5. Knokke-Heist 

CHALLENGE: Are you ready to complete this list? Let us know in the comments why your city is amazing and maybe your city will be on this list.

Need concrete place marketing tips? Discover the place marketing differences between Belgium and The Netherlands

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In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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