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Publishing Our First Children’s Book

Bryony Barker

26 FEBRUARY 2021

Our ‘Unpacking The Process’ series shines a light on some of our recent collaborations. This time we give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of our most innovative projects yet; a children’s book series for The Ritz Carlton.

The Little Lost Elephant is a story inspired by the real-world experiences of guests reimagined for a colourful jungle world.

Quality of service is critical to The Ritz Carlton brand story. We saw a creative opportunity in using the stories of previous guests where The Ritz Carlton went above and beyond to connect with families and create new experiences.

Tailoring our idea to the rituals of family life, the format became a children’s book. The act of reading a child a bedtime story is an important family routine and so our book was to be placed in the family suites across The Ritz Carlton’s portfolio of hotels.

The visual nature of children’s books meant the illustrations were the critical piece of the storytelling process. With a specialism in nature and animals, artist and illustrator Jennie Webber was selected to bring our magical animal kingdom to life. The slightest brushstroke can transform a character from disgruntled and mean to curious and excited, and Jennie’s unique style allowed us to create a world children and adults alike would be invested in.

Supporting our illustrator, children’s author Julia Gray brought a nuanced understanding of words and rhythm to our story creation – an essential tool in building a child-friendly narrative.

And finally, when the story was written and its characters drawn, considering how the book would look and feel in little hands was the next step. Working with an art director and manufacturer on the tactile elements of the book creation, it was the finer details of paper selection and printing processes that brought the story out of the page and gave the product long-lasting value. With special foiling and textured paper, the tangible components of the book’s construction added to the reading experience and reflected the prestige of the brand.

With an archive of customer reviews where The Ritz Carlton staff have gone to lengths to help a guest, we needed to pick a theme with a narrative hook a child could understand. Mimicking a lost and found type-anecdote children would be familiar with, from The Ritz Carlton Berlin we found an account where hotel staff reunited a child with their favourite toy after it had accidentally been left behind during their stay. Using this as the foundation of our story, Julia created The Little Lost Elephant – a tale about a little elephant named Emma who gets lost and needs help finding her way back to her family.

However, the customer experience in Berlin wasn’t only the crux of the narrative. To bring features of the actual hotel and its architecture into the book, we took pictures of the different rooms and reception areas the child would have experienced in real life and used these to help inspire our illustrator’s drawings. From this process, the iconic stairway of the Berlin hotel was reimagined in double page spread.

As the facilitator of all their guest experiences and the hero of our book, The Ritz Carlton itself became a key character in our tale as Leo the Lion who helps Emma find her way home. Reimagining the lion of their logo, Jennie created a wise and astute character whilst Julia took inspiration from the qualities shown in other reviews to create their personality and voice.

It only seemed fitting to capture The Little Lost Elephant in the place where it all started, and a content shoot in the Berlin hotel showing the book in the hands of children was the final finishing touch. To create different touch points for URL and IRL, as well as capturing photos and a video where children relieved moments from the book – climbing up the staircase and enjoying jungle-themed afternoon tea for themselves – we also produced a limited edition gift set of the book and a Ritz Carlton hooded elephant towel, bringing the story to life by creating in-room experiences and memories both adults and children could relive at home.

From ideation to creation, The Little Lost Elephant was an opportunity for innovation, a new way of celebrating the cachet of The Ritz Carlton brand, as well as giving something back to the guests who make it what it is. We loved this project dearly and it was an absolute pleasure to see the book launch earlier this year.

If you’d like to read more about The Little Lost Elephant click here, or if you’re interested in how we can create a contemporary experience with your brand, drop us a line – we’d love to chat.