Hotel Esplanade is one of Melbourne’s oldest and most loved pubs, proudly overlooking St Kilda Beach since 1878. Known to many as simply ‘The Espy’, the pub closed in May 2015 and quickly slipped into disrepair. Hospitality group Sand Hill Road bought The Espy in May 2017 and spent eighteen months lovingly restoring the seaside icon to her former glory, creating 12 bars, two restaurants and three stages across the expansive property. 

Hotel Esplanade: Interior

Aware of the need to strike the right balance between holding on to the venue’s rich heritage, re-engaging former patrons and also appealing to a new audience, Sand Hill Road tasked Example with developing a brand and marketing strategy, new brand identity for the venue and its individual offerings, and to manage the iconic venue’s public relations pre, during and post launch.


Example realised immediately that Hotel Esplanade’s future could not be paved without drawing upon the venue’s many layers of rich history. Knowing that the redeveloped pub needed to speak to multi-generational audiences all across Melbourne, Example set out to profile different audience needs and to uncover the stories at the heart of the venue. And it didn’t take long for gold to be struck. 

Taking cues from one of the hotel’s most colourful and eccentric former residents, and one of Melbourne’s great philanthropists, Example carefully crafted a brand identity inspired by the great Alfred Felton. A great art collector, traveller, chemist and activist, Alfred’s weird and wonderful life story helped shape the many facets of what would become the new Espy. 

Hotel Esplanade Ideas

Informed by research, insights and a rich tapestry of stories, Example developed a master brand identity for the venue which combined its nostalgic past with a nod to the future. Embracing Felton’s philanthropy and penchant for the unusual, the venue’s master brand was crafted to welcome all Melbournians to ‘A Seaside Magnificent’ - a pub for all, and a maze of surprises. 


Example then went on to craft connected but still individual sub-brand identities for Mya Tiger (the venue’s modern Catonese restaurant), The Ghost of Alfred Felton (a secret top-level speakeasy cocktail bar) and the venue’s multitude of live music and entertainment spaces. 


A 12 month marketing strategy and plan followed, providing guidance for the Sand Hill Road team from pre-launch and beyond, and delivering the venue a framework to engage audiences new and old, as well helping to cement its place within the local and broader community. 


Finally, a disciplined and strategic public relations campaign was developed to educate and inspire Melbournians, creating a solid drumbeat of coverage in the lead-up to and throughout the launch period. This included a vision announcement and media briefing six months prior to doors opening, showcasing the wealth of talent that were bringing the project to-life and providing media with a solid framework for coverage in the lead-up; in-depth interview features with key talent involved; a music announcement that demonstrated music remained at the heart of the venue; and a two phased ‘doors open’ campaign that educated audiences about the many experiences within and uncovered the stories hidden between the pub’s historic walls.

The resulting coverage was staggering, with a tidal wave of stories, news, photo galleries and interviews across news, broadcast, music, food and travel design outlets, firmly cementing The Espy’s relaunch in Melbourne’s cultural history books.

Andy Mullins
“Thank you for the most disciplined, creative, engaging, impactful and pitch-perfect PR campaign we could ever imagine. You guys are amazing. You smashed it”

– Andy Mullins

Good Food
“You know by now that the Espy is back. You cannot not know. The fanfare around the phoenix-like rising of the place that holds the secret shames of countless Melburnians, collected over its 100-plus years of operation as luxury hotel and infamous music venue, has been Royal News huge. It might as well have been rebirthed by Duchess Meghan Markle herself”

– Good Food

Example acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work, and we recognise their continuing connection to land and culture.

Example House
69 Roslyn Street, Rushcutters Bay
Sydney, NSW 2011, Australia
+ 61 2 8322 4600

Example Studio
2 Scanlan Street, Fortitude Valley
Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia
+61 7 2102 5904

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