CovidComms Awards

How Innocent Drinks reminded people what day it was during lockdown

Shortlisted: Best use of social media
CovidComms Awards 2020

Innocent Drinks would be the first to admit that its social media is often used to discuss life, the universe and what flavour crisps are best. While he recognises that the channel should probably advertise smoothies, social media copywriter John Thornton prefers to post ‘nonsense about day-to-day stuff’.

But even Thornton admits to being was stumped by a global pandemic. ‘Now that’s a tricky one,’ the former librarian concedes. ‘But it’s about having fun with social media. It doesn’t have to be linked to business outcomes.’

Within the first week of working from home, Thornton realised that lockdown was rather like the period between Christmas and the New Year when all the days blur into one. But without the chocolate and turkey leftovers.

In an effort to keep Innocent Drinks’ followers entertained, from March 2020 the social media team posted daily reminders of what day it was for three months. For example, on 22 May 2020 @Innocent, which has more than 300,000 followers, tweeted that it was Friday, with the exhortation to ‘Pinch yourself. It really is Friday’… ‘Please note: pinching yourself is entirely at your own risk. Innocent Drinks Ltd will not be held responsible for any pinch-related injuries.’

Over the three months, Innocent Drinks regularly posted working from home challenges on Twitter, such as changing an outfit during a video call without anyone noticing or encouraging followers to screen shot a colleague’s room and then set it as their background.

They took it further on Facebook, posting daily updates with facts, challenges, boredom busters, handwashing songs and ‘loads of other nonsense’, which within three months had organically reached ten million people.

It was the same story on Twitter. For example, the simple tweet ‘It’s a Wednesday’, posted on 25 March, was retweeted 331 times and liked more than 2,000 times. It was even quoted in 50 other tweets.

‘I normally get my inspiration on the train going to work so I had to find it elsewhere,’ says Thornton. ‘But I started to feed off the responses.’

At the end of the first week of lockdown, Thornton penned a poem ‘about what we were feeling – our fears and our hopes’.

It began:

Friday night. We’ve made it. Best part of the week.

But this Friday is different.

We’re not going out.

We’re not going out-out.

We’re not going out ‘just for one’ (or five).

But are we going to sit inside and do nothing?

No. We’re going to sit inside and do everything.

We’re going to watch every boxset on iPlayer.

We’re going to read a book. Maybe two.

We’re going to have virtual pub quizzes, Facetime sing-alongs and handheld house parties.

We’re going to play Monopoly.

We’re going to wish we didn’t.

The 50-line poem ended:

We’re not going to forget people.

We’re not going to give up.

We’re not going to give in.

We’re not going to stockpile toilet roll.

We’re going to keep looking after everyone who works here.

We’re going to give away every spare drink to someone who needs it.

We’re going to try our hardest to bring people together.

And we’re going to keep posting nonsense on the internet to try and make you laugh.

One week down. ________ weeks to go.

We’re going to get through this.

We’re going to carry on.


It became Innocent’s third most popular post on Facebook, and its most liked Instagram post, reaching 1.5 million people.

But his favourite post involved a ‘nonsense list’ of 100 things people could do at the weekend – ‘ten of them involved cleaning the kitchen, and I did clean the kitchen’ – which reached more than two million people.

The smoothie company also trended on Twitter with a game it invented, #PostcodePandemonium, where followers had to total up the sum of their postcodes (each letter converted to a number – A being 1, Z being 26) and post the results. There were a few rules though, including the need to ‘warm up and stretch first’.

But the channels were also used for more serious stuff, including a post about Age UK, Innocent’s official charity partner for more than 15 years, which raised more than £10,000. Followers were also encouraged to knit hats for smoothie bottles, which is part of Innocent Drinks’ annual fundraising initiative: more than 3,600 kits were distributed.

Families who normally received free school meals were invited to sign up for free smoothies. A free postcard initiative was launched, enabling people to send messages to loved ones, while the Innocent Drinks’ staff manned a new ‘Bananaphone’ hotline from their homes, and chatted to more than 500 people who were feeling lonely.

‘During lockdown, we did what we’ve always done – kept our drinkers at the heart of everything, and made sure they’re entertained and taken care of. And we’ve done it better than ever – in March, April and May our posts were shared so much that we got almost 30 million organic impressions, about three times higher than our target,’ says Thornton.

‘We can honestly say it’s some of our best ever work and we’re properly proud of it. It’s very humbling to read the comments and see we’ve genuinely made a tiny difference to some people’s lockdowns.’