HomeEquity Bank’s virtual solution to a real world problem

Who: HomeEquity Bank, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for strategy and creative, Zulubot for production, Weber Shandwick for PR, Metaverse Architects and iQuanti for media.

What: “Metaverse Homes for Heroes,” a campaign promoting the company’s partnership with Homes for Heroes, a non-profit that builds boutique communities of 15 to 25 tiny homes for veterans experiencing homelessness. It’s a virtual attempt at solving a very real problem.

When & Where: The campaign launched on July 12 and runs through Aug. 12. It takes place within a virtual build of a planned Homes for Heroes village in Decentraland, a two-year-old virtual world platform. There is also a dedicated URL, MakeThisVillageReal.com, that enables people to quickly and easily enter the environment without any downloads or configurations. It’s being supported by a combination of paid and earned media.

Why: HomeEquity Bank has included Canada’s military veterans in several recent marketing programs, partnering with the Royal Canadian Legion on its annual poppy drive through a variety of executions, including last year’s “Orders of Sacrifice,” and 2020’s “Team Legion,” the world’s oldest esports team.

“We thought it would really be great if we expand our support for veterans to be more than just once a year,” said Vivianne Gauci, senior vice-president, marketing and customer experience for HomeEquity Bank. “We thought this would be a great way to leverage the popularity of the metaverse to raise awareness and support for Canadian veterans.”

The goal is to raise awareness of veteran homelessness in Canada, while helping raise funds toward the construction of Homes for Heroes’ planned build in Kingston. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, veterans make up about 4.4% of homeless individuals in Canada in 2018.

Research conducted by HomeEquity Bank found that while some people are hesitant about stepping into the metaverse, more than half of respondents indicated they’d be willing to explore it if it could promise a positive real world impact. “In essence this activation is exactly that,” she said. “It’s marrying something virtual to something real. For us it made sense to wade into this space in that format.”

How: Zulu Alpha Kilo enlisted Metaverse Architects, a company that launched this year and specializes in metaverse building, to help create the virtual environment. It created a Decentraland version of the planned Home for Heroes community in Kingston, allowing visitors to tour the homes and the park-like community surrounding them.

The environment also provides an opportunity for visitors to make a donation to Homes for Heroes, with HomeEquity Bank matching all donations for the duration of the campaign.

And we quote: “Whether you’re a physical person walking down the street, or an avatar walking through a virtual community, your attention and time have value to marketers. As people continue to adapt and spend time on these platforms, I think there are legitimate opportunities there. Anyone who’s not open to this future of the metaverse and virtual 3D environments. I wouldn’t call it the future [of marketing], but it’s another channel that’s here to stay.”—Brian Murray, executive creative director, Zulu Alpha Kilo

Chris Powell