Charlie McVeigh, founder of the Draft House pub chain and chairman of the Breakfast Club, is to launch Project Pint next week, a campaign to remind people about the positive role pubs will play when the hospitality industry starts to reopen.
The "dream campaign", which is being rolled out this week, already has the support of operators and UKHospitality. It will include a social media campaign highlighting why people miss their local pub, via daily vox pops from pub workers, brewers and pub-goers, and aims to forge a partnership between brewers and publicans.
Speaking on Business at HospoLive's Business at Breakfast on Monday, McVeigh said that FOGO (Fear of Going Out) was one of the three main threats to the hospitality industry, along with a lack of cash and the challenge that physical distancing will bring.
"If we get more people wanting to go out, it puts more pressure on the government about distancing, and it should put more money in the tills when we open our doors if more people are going out. Of all of the three challenges, if we can get rid of FOGO, get people excited and get people talking about wanting to go back to the pub, I think it will happen."
McVeigh said that Project Pint was about celebrating the pub and would have two principal phases: firstly, a change.org petition to 'free the pint', which will launch at the beginning of June; and 'free pint please!' which will be a digital mechanism to claim a free pint when local pubs reopen. McVeigh said he was already in "fairly advanced" discussions about how that might work.
McVeigh, who founded the Draft House pub chain in 2009, said the best outcome of the campaign would be to provide a specific banner for the industry where everyone could unite.
Commenting on the timing of re-opening pubs, McVeigh said that they key words were "when it's safe", and that everyone would have to "make their own decision". He said he plans to enjoy his first pint, Exmoor Gold, at his local pub the London Inn, in Molland, North Devon.