As the UK reunited over a socially-distanced beer as the lockdown eased, Stella Artois is looking to ensure the moment is a safe one - through the power of smart street art.
The beer brand installed a huge 28 x 14 metre artwork at the heart of the Old Truman Brewery in London, using a combination of geometric shapes and contrasting colours to help visitors safely maintain social distancing without the need for physical barriers.
Elements of the design are being shared with 1,000 pubs and bars across the UK to support their covid-19 measures as they finally welcome back customers.
The artwork also functions as a strong branding boosting campaign, generating social media photos and shares as pub goers enjoyed their first drinks together.
The artwork has been developed by Stella Artois with Studio Number One, the team of world-renowned street artist Shepard Fairey - best known for the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster and Andre the Giant OBEY designs.
The work borrows techniques used in op art, urban planning, architecture and design to manage people’s movements and make keeping socially distant obvious and easy, without the use of off-putting physical barriers.
It features a careful combination of circles, flowing lines and bright, contrasting colours, set within a representation of a woman toasting with a beer, creating a design that is both functional and artistic - transforming an otherwise featureless space into a vibrant place to linger safely over a drink.
The colour-contrasted circles accommodate different-sized groups, allowing individuals from different households to meet in adjacent circles, with larger areas for several housemates to share a beer together.
And while the circles are precisely spaced to maintain social distancing, the range of sizes and flowing lines around them create a sense of freedom and movement - avoiding the stark feeling of being on a grid or the sense of disconnection found in other safe-social designs.
Making customers feel safe
The Stella Artois initiative comes as changes to licensing laws mean many pubs are looking to convert outdoor spaces into al fresco drinking areas. The campaign hopes not only to make such places safer, but also ensure customers actually feel safe, while minimising measures that some may feel unwelcoming.
Ali Humphrey, Marketing Director, Stella Artois Europe, said: “Social distancing doesn’t need to be anti-social for it to be safe. We’re using art to bring people together, safely, rather than using barriers to keep them apart. Using street art we can make sure this moment we come together again is still one we can savour.
“Despite the mounting anticipation for that first post-lockdown beer with a friend, people are still risk-conscious. Would-be pub-goers need reassurance that pubs will be safe spaces. But they also don’t want to lose the social atmosphere that makes them so special, which means trying to make spatial guidelines something drinkers can take pleasure from, rather than feel restricted by.”
Shepard Fairey, Creative Director and co-founder of Studio Number One commented: “With galleries and exhibitions closing their doors during lockdown, people have been unable to experience and appreciate art in the usual ways. My team collaborated with Stella Artois to create socially-distanced art to be publicly accessible, but also to facilitate safety as people reunite. I have a history at the Truman Brewery, so I’m excited that this debuts there.”
As part of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Stella Artois has provided a package of re-opening support for pubs and bars across the country, which included access to an on-demand ordering platform, operational safety support, as well as barware to help with al fresco drinking and takeaway sales.
At the start of lockdown, the group also launched Save Pub Life. This initiative offered a platform for pub-goers to buy gift cards to use in their local when it reopens, with the amount matched by Budweiser Brewing Group, up to a combined total of £1m.