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‘Social Windows’ Make Social Distancing Safe and Easy in Swiss Restaurants


When restaurants across Switzerland reopened in May after an eight-week shutdown triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, operators faced a potentially business-crippling challenge. Federal safety regulations required tables to be 1.5 meters apart, which meant most eateries were looking at a 60% reduction in seating capacity unless they installed partitions between tables (which would bypass the spacing requirement).

Coca-Cola Switzerland partnered with the Social Windows project – a collective of communications and event planning who came together at the onset of the pandemic to build protective panels for local businesses – to help the struggling foodservice sector get back on its feet.

Social Windows builds transparent, lightweight panels with plexiglass, wood and metal – elevated and stabilized by attached stands – to be positioned between tables, chairs or benches. The “social windows” are non-intrusive, easy to clean, and designed to fit seamlessly in restaurant environments. In addition to keeping guests and staff safe, they also help reduce dining room noise.

“We are able to offer an easy-to-use solution for the severely hit gastronomy sector in Switzerland,” said Vincent Rameau, country GM, Coca-Cola Switzerland. Based on feedback we’re receiving, we know that we were able to help Swiss gastronomers in the recovery phase of their businesses. This makes us happy and proud.”

Coca-Cola Switzerland secured fair price and procurement of 2,500 panels in Switzerland through a joint venture with Social Windows, potentially freeing up more than 5,000 seats in 500-plus restaurants across the country. The company also provided an additional 50% discount to its top 100 customers.

“This way I was able to gain back at least 20 percent of my tables,” said Florian Schenk, owner of Kafi Complet in Zweisimmen. “And the panels were delivered within two days of ordering, which was great.”

The Social Windows initiative is part of the Coca-Cola #OpenLikeNeverBefore creative platform to support hard-hit hotels, cafes and restaurants reopening after a long hiatus. Small businesses can develop social media and outdoor advertising to spread the world of their reopening plans, via the digital Coca-Cola AdCreator, and amplified by media space donated by Coca-Cola. “Open Like Never Before” is anchored by an inspirational film featuring the lines of London-born spoken word artist George “The Poet” Mpanga. The spot – and supporting outdoor and social media creative – invites the world to embrace change, to see possibility, and to better appreciate things they perhaps took for granted before the pandemic.

“The power of the Coca-Cola brand, at its best, is the ability to go both really big and really small,” said Walter Susini, VP of marketing, Coca-Cola Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “‘Open Like Never Before’ includes the universally optimistic message of the manifesto film, as well as a call to action for local communities to support their local businesses – door by door, restaurant by restaurant, bar by bar.”

He added, “This not a campaign. It’s an extension of our company’s purpose to refresh the world and make a difference. Together, we believe we make the most of this moment by emerging stronger and creating a better shared future.”

The launch of “Open Like Never Before” marked Coke’s return to the commercial airwaves in EMEA following a seven-month global advertising pause. During this time, the company redirected resources to support COVID-19 relief efforts around the world and donated media space to charity partners. Together with bottling partners and The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company has donated more than $100 million globally.

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