The Harmon Room

Creating travel buzz during a global pandemic

What we did

Account Management
Brand Strategy
Creative Direction
Video Production
Social Media Strategy
Social Listening


2020 was a rough year for the tourism industry. We all cancelled our travel plans, stayed inside, and watched a whole lot of Netflix. One of our favorites was The Queen’s Gambit, a mid-century chess thriller set in our very own Lexington, Kentucky.  The show ended up being Netflix’s most-watched scripted limited series ever, with more than 62 million households falling into the Central Kentucky world of Beth Harmon. It was a once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity for Lexington—so we got off the couch, put our heads together, and figured out how we could grab some of that Netflix-induced hype for Lexington at a time when the city needed it most.


Even though the show wasn’t filmed here (call us, Netflix!), we wanted to show how the world of The Queen’s Gambit comes to life here in Lexington, both by highlighting locations from the show, and by creating our own little piece of it. We partnered with 21c Museum Hotel to build a room themed around the show—one that would capture attention, earn press, and get people coming to Lexington to see it for themselves. 


We pulled together a team of local creatives, from interior designer Isabel Ladd and preservationist Lucy Jones to wallpaper designer Alex Mason to local vintage shops. Together, we brought the world of The Queen’s Gambit into reality in a dreamlike room that, yes, included giant chess pieces suspended from the ceiling to mimic Beth Harmon’s visions in the show. 

At the same time, we pulled together a Queen’s Gambit Guide to Lexington to offer visitors a self-guided tour of Lexington’s ties to the show. We designed and printed custom Lex Liquors bags, and partnered with local nonprofit Iron Bridge Woodshop to offer chess sets for sale in the Visitors Center. It all came together over the holidays, and by New Year’s, we were ready to launch 2021 with a bang.


The internet went ballistic. 21c received 120 booking inquiries within the first 24 hours. There was a 2,570% year-over-year increase in social traffic to the VisitLEX website. The project earned global press in over 150 publications. 15,000+ social shares. Nearly 700 million media impressions. And Lexington was placed on lists of hot destinations for 2021 alongside locations like Los Cabos, New York City, The Seychelles, Jamaica, and London.


The Queen’s Gambit put a spotlight on Lexington and piqued people’s interest in our community at a time when we could really use a boost. The Harmon Room and all of the activities we have planned around it are our way of rolling out the red carpet for visitors and another fun example of the way we use creativity to market our incredible city.” 

– Gathan Borden, VisitLEX VP of Marketing