Rubens  versus Facebook

Introducing the Facebook inspectors or simply 'FBI', that protects us from nudity, buttocks and cleavage in real life.

rubens versus facebook

rubens_visit flanders
social media_pr_open meeting


Launch an international awareness campaign to prove that the spirit of the Flemish Master Rubens is still alive in his hometown Antwerp.


Creating an international viral campaign using social listening techniques and strong public relations. During our online campaign that promoted  'The year of Rubens' in Antwerp, we frequently tripped over the same hurdle: Facebook and its ad policy. Facebook banned our very decent sponsored posts because they linked — according to the social media giant — to an online porno platform. In reality, this platform was not pornographic at all. Visitors could find facts and figures about Rubens and the best cultural places to visit in Antwerp.
And yes, occasionally we showed some nude paintings of Rubens and we used words such as ‘lush’ or ‘sensual’ to describe them. We never thought Facebook’s prudery would go as far as to threaten the success of the campaign. So we decided to challenge Facebook and pick a fight, knowing very well that a lot of people (social listening) and the media (PR approach) would side with us and bring us the desired attention.
We illustrated the problem with a video that ridiculed this policy by taking it into real life. The video was accompanied by an open letter directed to Marc Zuckerberg in which we proposed to solve this problem together. The campaign was being backed by the most critical Belgian museums, soon joined by other international museums. The media value of this action was just dizzying.
The Flemish Masters were front and center of the essential contemporary debate about censorship and by doing so #Antwerp and #Rubens started to trend on every platform.

client: visit flanders_tama d'haen_pauline steverlynck_elke dens
special thanks to czar_flrsh 

The campaign went viral and Facebook changed it's policy.

Region: more the 30 countries
Media value: +300,000,000 euro
Total reach: +50,000,000 people
KPI Awareness: Rubens and Antwerp were always mentioned in earned media and social conversations.


I'm Gwenn Nevelsteen,

you can call me