Together Again, safely apart: how brands can promote social distancing

together again safely apart stella artois logo

Can marketing become art? Can art help marketing? Can both converge and help society through a crisis? In September, the international beer brand Stella Artois launched a project in Milan, effectively providing affirmative answers to all three questions. The project, by the suggestive name of Together Again, safely apart was created in collaboration with Studio Number One, to promote social distancing in bars through street art.

Together Again, safely apart: social life and entertainment during Covid times

What Stella Artois presented was nothing short of a new model for social aggregation, designed to grant people’s safety in a social situation. A barge was docked in one of Milan’s canals, in Porta Ticinese – a hub of Milanese nightlife – and the creative team of Studio Number One painted a work of street-art on its wooden floor. This creative studio is itself a symbol of change and innovation: it was founded by the artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his artwork “Hope“, the poster Barack Obama used in his 2008 election campaign. The barge was used as a bar and club, hosting live music and art performances. The art on the floor, dividing the space into brightly-coloured areas, helped the punters keep the appropriate distance from one another while enjoying their beer. The shapes on the floor were also fluid and irregular, designed to guide the flow of people, making their experience as natural and “organic” as possible. Access to the barge was free up to a maximum capacity of 40 people.

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What brands can do to engage consumers during a pandemic

After months of lockdown and with the perspective of a second wave looming closer, people are starved for social interactions, and brands like Stella Artois, while they can profit from this demand, have a responsibility when it comes to promoting correct behaviours in social situations. This is one of the rare occasions in which brands do have a place in the public discourse. Investing in a marketing campaign can be a way of making a statement, of sending meaningful messages, which must be worked into the brand’s identity. Engaging consumers with a project such as Together Again, safely apart is an effective way of encouraging social activities and the cautious return to some semblance of normalcy, while promoting safety and minimising risks.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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