Creative consulting agency Happiness Brussels — an FCB affiliate — turns “one of the most tangible memories parents can have” about their kids who tragically lost their lives in car accidents into a tool to communicate with drivers during the festive season — a time when many Belgians are driving to their holiday destination. The effort marks the latest work for the agency’s long-term partner, Parents of Road Victims‘ (OVK/PEVR), and sees the association listing some rooms on Booking.com but which are not available for rent.
The “Empty Rooms” campaign is built on the fact that many parents who lose their kid in car crashes usually leave their child’s room untouched — just as it was the day they left forever. The mother of Stan, a young boy who passed away in a traffic accident in 2019, says that she can’t change anything in the boy’s room because she would feel like “losing him once again,” adding that this is the closest she and her family can get to their child. Just like Stan’s parents, there are others who go through the same experience, keeping the memory of their deceased son or daughter alive through their unchanged rooms.
More than 200 people fall victim to car accidents because of speed driving in Belgium each year. The holiday season is of particular interest; because of the weather context, motorists are recommended to drive more carefully, pay more attention to the road, and adapt the speed to the sometimes-difficult winter conditions. To send this message to the drivers and urge them to be responsible when behind the wheel, the association listed several rooms belonging to young people who passed away in road accidents on Booking.com.
The rooms are placed symbolically on the platform, none of them being actually available for rent. Three rooms are hosted on Booking.com: Stan‘s — the young boy mentioned above and who would have turned 24 years old today; Theo‘s — who passed away in 2003; and Sofie‘s — who was the victim of a traffic accident in 2016.
Philippe Fass, Creative Director at Happiness Brussels, says: “When parents lose a child in a road accident, they often leave their bedroom the way it was the day their child left for the last time. It is one of the most tangible memories parents can have. The unchanged nature of the room means they can still feel the presence of their child. Now that many people will be traveling on holiday, we are putting some of these rooms on Booking.com as a symbolic act to make the link between traveling, booking rooms, and driving carefully.”
The “Empty Rooms” campaign includes a video that documents Stan’s family talking about the young boy’s room and a microsite, while family and travel influencers will also show their support by sharing the message even further.
Client: Ouders van Verongelukte Kinderen (OVK/PEVR) — Parents of Road Victims
Managing Director: Koen Van Wonterghem
Coordinator: Sara Sweeck
Coordinator: Annita Van Gucht
Agency: Happiness Brussels
Executive Creative Management: Karen Corrigan
Chief Creative Officer: Geoffrey Hantson
Creative Director: Philippe Fass
Managing Director: Hans Smets
Account Executive: Zeno Stevens
Concept Provider/Photographer: Stéphane Opdenbosch
Concept Provider: Catherine Hermans
Content Director: Wesley Roeland
Connectivity Planner: Elise Van Craen
Director/Editor: Bart Callaerts
DOP – Happiness Brussels: Bram Van Roy
Head of Production: Bart Vande Maele
Producer: Dominique van Doormaal
Producer: Arthur De Wachter
Head of Design: Dries Lauwers
Designer: Samuel Otterspoor
Designer: Lore Snauwaert
Designer: Romy Styleman
Copywriter: Dee Verwaetermeulen
Head of Digital: Joni Allaert
Head of Technology: Thomas Colliers
Digital Account Manager: Gertjan Verbruggen