Shaftesbury turns its Villages Virtual

Shaftesbury has announced a village-wide programme of initiatives to provide support for consumers, residents and operators during coronavirus. Reflecting the unique nature of its West End portfolio, Shaftesbury is bringing-to-life virtually Chinatown, Seven Dials and Carnaby with a programme of unique digital content created by tenants to entertain, educate and inform people while they remain unable to visit the villages in person.

The first campaign to go live was #BringingChinatownHome, which helps people take inspiration and enjoy the area from their homes. Shaftesbury has developed a virtual ‘routine’ that allows followers to explore Chinese culture with a series of activities throughout the week, mixing mindfulness exercises and basic language lessons and regular recipe content. A significant element of the campaign celebrates the diverse cuisine of the area, and Chinatown London is encouraging the public to recreate the dishes they miss most. To help source key ingredients, Chinatown’s own supermarket, See Woo, has launched SEE WOO TO YOU, delivering fresh ingredients to Londoners within a five-mile radius of their Chinatown London store. The supermarket also remains open in Chinatown London for all essential goods.

Seven Dials @ Home is a digital initiative to ensure the community and consumers can remain connected to Seven Dials during the lockdown. The campaign features curated content created in partnership with Seven Dials’ hospitality and retail occupiers for their social media followers.  Participating brands include Another_Space, Flesh & Buns, Lumas, Caudalie, Nudie Jeans, Benefit, Dinny Hall and Tatty Devine, who between them are offering bespoke video tutorials, make-and-enjoy-at-home classes, as well as guides on wellbeing and health. KERB has also created the Seven Dials Market Cornershop, which is delivering a taste of London to residents throughout the capital.

Completing the virtual village offer is Carnaby Together, which is highlighting the full breadth of experiences available in London’s iconic shopping and dining destination, focusing on sustainability, community and charity. Examples include recipes and cook-at-home classes from brands such as Dishoom, Pizza Pilgrims and Crumbs and Doilies; wellness and gym classes by triyoga, Sweatty Betty and Heartcore;, and style and beauty advice from Bleach London and MAC. Carnaby is also providing social media followers opportunities to ask brands questions directly, and to go behind the scenes at retailers and F&B operators. Completing Carnaby Together is the launch of the first fully digital Carnaby magazine.

Commenting on the creation of the virtual villages, Karen Baines Head of Group Marketing and Communications at Shaftesbury, said: “Consumers and the community alike are craving content that helps them feel connected. At the same time, brands are seeking ways in which they can remain in touch with their followers. Our virtual villages respond to these needs by taking the brands and wider experience of each of the destinations directly into people’s homes.

“The support has been very positive, with lots of brands working with us to create bespoke experiences, while followers are sharing their own content as further inspiration. The virtual villages are adding value as people live their lives in lockdown, and maintaining relationship for brands that will pay dividends when the recovery begins.”

The launch of the virtual villages follows Shaftesbury’s creation of a Community Fund to aid local partners in providing support where it is most needed during the current situation. The Fund is equivalent to the cost savings from the board remuneration waivers announced earlier this month.

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