The Esplanade Hotel 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 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 grandeur and glory, creating 12 bars, two restaurants and three stages across the expansive property.

Hotel Esplanade: Interior

Example were tasked to develop a brand strategy and identity for the venue as a whole, as well as for each offering within the venue; a marketing and communications strategy focused on the launch  and always-on activity for the pub; and management of all public relations for the venue.


We realised at once that we could not pave Hotel Esplanade’s future without referencing her many layers of rich history. We knew that the brand needed to speak to the many generations of Melburnians who already had an attachment to a certain time in The Espy’s history, but also form a voice that was accessible to her new and future guests.

We began our reinvention of Melbourne beloved Esplanade Hotel by taking cues from one of their most colourful and eccentric guests, Alfred Felton. Chemist and art collector with an in-built curiosity, Felton was truly a man ahead of his time.

A bona fide original, Alfred’s Esplanade home boasted his old apothecary cabinets, his avante-garde art collection and library. Our brand story was inspired by Felton’s particular penchant for all things weird and wonderful, referencing the various storied aspects of Felton’s wildly original life.

Hotel Esplanade Ideas

For the Espy’s hero brand, our revitalised identity combined the hotel’s nostalgia with a nod to the future. We embraced Felton’s philanthropy, the ‘everyman’s pub’ he called home and the eclectic group of Victorians he befriended over the years.


The new Hotel Esplanade encourages visitors to take a journey into the familiarly unfamiliar.  It revels in the memories we know we have, but can’t remember why, or how.

It’s a realistic dreamland, that has once again become a beating heart that inspires wonderful things to flourish, and is packed to the brim with everything that brings us pleasure.

It’s a place of desirable things. It’s a Seaside Magnificent.


Mya Tiger, Espy’s Cantonese restaurant offering, was inspired by Felton’s endeavours to shed light on domestic violence against women – an essentially taboo subject in the early 1900s.

Consequently, this identity sought to portray the voice of a fearless tigress, asserting her power over mankind. While taking cues from colonial Hong Kong design, Mya Tiger was a playful departure from the rules. Her tone was cheeky and full of sass; in order to get along here, you definitely must bao down.


Given how much The Espy means to Melbourne and the many facets of the brand that we needed to communicate, it was imperative that we laid the strong story foundations in the lead-up to its launch and ensured the media were part of the journey.


We initiated a disciplined and strategic PR campaign designed to educate and inspire, creating a solid drumbeat of coverage in the lead-up and throughout the launch period. This included an vision announcement and media briefing six months before doors opened, 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 two phased ‘doors open’ campaign that educated consumers 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 the cultural history book of Melbourne.

“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

“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


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