The Staying Inn.
Picture the scene. You've just come back from a pretty hefty TV shoot at Alton Towers, only to feel a bit under the weather. Except instead of a normal cold, you get hit with a pretty big whack of Covid-19: the official sponsor of 2020's shitstorm.
On my last day of self isolation, the government announced the pubs were closing. Socially and creatively frustrated after two weeks alone, I knew I had to do something, to lift people's spirits whilst encouraging them to follow the government's advice and stay at home.
Ironically, 'staying inn' was exactly that.
Working with my close friend and art director Sophie Stevens, we created an online pub. This included our own unique logo, equipped with everything you might need for a ‘quarantini’ or two (sofa, remote-control crisps, you name it). We then got to work setting up a Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter community – as well as a fun spotify playlist for people to enjoy. We asked people to leave us reviews on our Facebook page as though we were a real pub, and we responded with funny comments. We created our own memes, a ‘dancefloor’(set up on instragram stories) and filled our feed with the screen grabs that people had sent us of enjoying a drink together online, tagging themselves @thestayinginn. We also ran a pub quiz every Wednesday, which had participants as far away as LA and Amsterdam join us for a little quarantine trivia and even sent cards to the winners, as a souvenir.
Our platform caught the attention of Nick Entwistle, who runs the twitter creative community One Minute Briefs. After a lot of calls and emails over one weekend, we worked together to involve @LoveYourNHS and the charity Pay it Forward, and came up with a brief together to inspire the creative community to help convince people to enjoy #stayinginn and help our healthcare services in doing so.
The response to our brief was enormous. We received over 130 pieces of work from creatives all over the world, including a Guinness ad that went viral in less than 24 hours. The idea was covered by The Drum, Adweek and it was the largest uptake that One Minute Briefs had seen for for the entire year. I was invited to talk about the initiative at the Creative North conference, on a webinar for Social Chain called 'Opportunity in Crisis' and on the podcast 'Social Minds', encouraging other people to unleash their creative potential in lockdown too.
We closed our doors on the 3rd of July 2020 - the same day that the pubs reopened. With helpful advice to our audience, and a nod to a hospitality podcast for useful information on what pub staff were going through, we felt that we'd achieved our goal. All in, our various platforms had inspired and given purpose to other creatives, advice to a worried public, and put a smile on many people's faces in a troubling time. Will I ever be a landlady again? I'll drink to that.