Case study: The Lady In The Van screening and reception


The Lady In The Van is a play by Alan Bennett which was turned into a film starring Dame Maggie Smith (Harry Potter). Produced by BBC Films and released by Sony Pictures, a section of the film was shot on location in Broadstairs in November 2014 and a scene, which featured in the trailer, shows Dame Maggie eating a traditional knickerbocker glory in Morelli’s.

The film was released in November 2015.


  • To capitalize on the publicity around the film’s release, increase awareness of our brand, and drive sales
  • To showcase Morelli’s as a party venue
  • To build relationships with opinion formers, movers and shakers in local area
  • To celebrate our beautiful part of the country
  • To thank suppliers and regulars
  • To have fun!

The Event

Cinema: we booked The Palace Cinema in Broadstairs which was already showing the film and appears in it. We also spoke to Sony Pictures to get copies of the posters which we displayed in the parlour.

Party: we served prosecco and soft drinks, hot and cold canapés (from local suppliers), and our gelato on departure for guests to enjoy in the cinema. The reception began at 6.30 and finished at 7.45. We had 100 guests for the reception and the screening.


The response to the evening was universally positive.

The guest list was eclectic and included local celebrities, business people, loyal customers and other community members, many of whom posted about the event, acting as brand ambassadors.

We ran a competition on social media to give away tickets, which had excellent engagement. We also garnered coverage in the local press.

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Our own social feeds focused on the film with stories about the knickerbocker glory and offers around the heritage sundaes.

Moving forward, we’ve shown that Morelli’s can work brilliantly as a party venue and we will market it as such.  We’ve also established relationships with other producers which we hope will bear fruit.

See below for some of the social coverage.

Actor Brenda Blethyn (8000 followers), star of Vera, tweeted:

‘Thank you to everyone at Morelli ‘s Broadstairs. Wonderful hospitality last evening. Little wonder Morelli’s features in Lady with the Van.

Chetna Makan (25000 followers), Great British Bake Off finalist, posted on FB:

At a special screening of ‘The lady in the van’ hosted by Morelli’s Gelato and yes there was icecream!!!!! Such a lovely movie and also little shots of Broadstairs in it! #movie #icecream #morellis #Broadstairs

Wyatt & Jones (3000 followers) ‏@wyattandjones Nov 19

Lovely drinks party at @MorellisGelato  before special viewing of #LadyInTheVan at the beautiful Palace Cinema #Broadstairs -thank you!!!!


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