Marc Van Ooteghem (66) from Knokke has a friend. A special one, because he and Eric Landuyt (67) from Meulebeke look like two drops of water. All this came to light when De Knokkenaar got excited about a De Lijn campaign in which he came into the picture. “At least, I thought so,” says Marc. “But after a long search, it turned out to be a double. And then there was that meeting … Never thought I could see myself without looking in the mirror.”
They both live in West Flanders, Belgium, a few dozen kilometers apart. Yet Marc and Eric, who are the same age after one year, had never met each other in person. What they didn’t know either: the gentlemen look like two drops of water. Until one of the two figured in a De Lijn advertising campaign and the other was looking surprised when he suddenly saw ‘himself’ in the picture. “I heard the thunder in Cologne,” says Knokkenaar Marc Van Ooteghem. “Acquaintances appealed to me, said that I looked nice on the De Lijn poster. At first, I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but when I saw the campaign myself, I had to squeeze myself in the arm. I was sitting there, staring out at a De Lijn bus.”
Double in the game
The surprise from the first moment makes way for slight anger at Van Ooteghem, who regularly uses public transport. “I thought they had photographed me in the sneak,” the man explains. “That’s why I filed a complaint with De Lijn. To my surprise, they reported that the portrait rights were completely in order and I had to turn to my casting agency with further questions.” Van Ooteghem was surprised. “I have no contacts at all with a casting agency,” says the man who then left the matter alone.
But when months later that same photo appeared in another De Lijn campaign, he decided to call his son David. He presents the program ‘Spits’ on Radio 2 and promptly called in his colleague Sven Pichal, from the program ‘De Inspecteur’. “Through a friend, I got to the casting agency that runs the campaigns for De Lijn,” says David. “Then it turned out that a double was involved. The man in the photo was not my father, but his colleague Eric Landuyt from Meulebeke.”
David brought his father and his ‘double’ Eric together. “I lured my father with an excuse. You should have seen his face when he suddenly came face to face with Eric.” Marc Van Ooteghem did not believe his eyes. “Normally I always know what to say, but that moment I was really full of teeth,” the man admits. “It is also unreal. It was just like looking in a mirror. Eyes, teeth, even the number of wrinkles, it’s all right.” Eric, too, who knew he would meet his double, was impressed.
“What a coincidence. All this would not have happened without that advertising campaign. Three years ago my wife and I went on a bicycle trip to the Westhoek with friends. We ended up at a cafe near the Dodengang in Diksmuide. Film recordings were taking place there. We kept looking and suddenly a lady came to me. She turned out to be responsible for casting the actors and saw something in my ‘character head’, as she called it. I admitted that she included me in her data file, but actually did not believe it would ever produce anything. Until suddenly left and right some assignments came out of the bus, including the De Lijn campaign.”
The meeting between Marc and Eric was special. “I have the feeling that I have had a friend,” says Marc. “It clicks between us, probably also because we not only look so good physically. Character, talking skills, our flair, a way of dressing, the reading glasses that we hide under our sweater in the same way, … unbelievably how it is possible.”
“Marc has already suggested to me to do something together as a duo. I am looking forward to that. In any case, that first meeting was not our last, I am sure. And outsiders will have a tough time keeping us apart if they see us together ”, the man concludes.