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The Metaverse village that provides real veterans housing | #BehindTheIdea

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A Canadian bank recently partnered with Homes for Heroes, a charitable organization that builds villages for veterans experiencing homelessness.

HomeEquity Bank has taken the plans for Homes for Heroes’ future build in Kingston, Ontario, and built a virtual version of the village within the Decentraland Metaverse platform. Visitors can explore the virtual Homes for Heroes village, and help “make it real” by donating funds that will be matched by HomeEquity Bank.

Canadians can go to MakeThisVillageReal.com to experience the virtual village, without downloading any software. Donors will also receive a wearable NFT for use in Decentraland.

The campaign, which runs in the Decentraland Metaverse until August 12, aims to raise awareness of veteran homelessness in Canada, and to collect donations for the building of real-world veteran housing communities.         

Zulu Alpha Kilo led the strategy and creative development, Weber Shandwick led PR, Metaverse Architects led the Decentraland build and iQuanti was behind the media buying. We spoke to Brian Murray, Executive Creative Director at Zulu Alpha Kilo, to go behind this very unique idea.

What was the brief?

HomeEquity Bank believes that every Canadian should be able to enjoy the security and comfort of retiring in a home that they love. Our brief was to create a PR-worthy activation that communicated this core brand value.  

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

It was a juicy brief and the creative team (Vic Bath and Dan Cummings) had a lot of great ideas. But when we presented an earlier version of this concept to the clients, they had an immediate emotional reaction and we knew it was the winner.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?

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The creative team went off and came back with a number of distinct directions. Initially, we investigating an earlier version of this idea that we called “Forever Homes”, where we would preserve customers’ homes in the Metaverse.

When we shared all of our ideas with the integrated agency team, in one of our conversations, Weber Shandwick (our PR partner) made us aware of the charity Homes for Heroes. We immediately thought that they were a great charity doing an important job and began thinking about how we could evolve our campaign to benefit their cause.

Dan and Vic visited their website and found the plans for their next project in Kingston Ontario, and then that led to the version of the campaign that found its way to market.

What was the production process like?

This was our first foray into the Metaverse, so we had a lot of learning we had to do. Zulubot’s interactive producer, Ece Inan tapped into unconventional resources like Discord and Reddit to find the right partners.

The crypto community is very open and collaborative. Everyone we talked to offered advice and education. Ultimately, we partnered with a company called Metaverse Architects, who did a wonderful job making the Metaverse component of our campaign a reality, speaking virtually of course.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

The Metaverse is such a new platform, so the production companies who are operating in the space are all still very new. Our biggest challenge was finding a partner who we were confident that we could trust to deliver what we needed, executed with a high level of craft, without any bugs, and on time. Metaverse Architects were great – and they even provided use of the virtual real estate, which was also simplified things for us immensely.

What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?

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We used Decentraland’s SDK to build & upload to the platform. The 3D design and reviews were done on Blender.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

We were impressed by how enthusiastic Homes for Heroes were about the campaign. They were eager to learn more about the Metaverse and Decentraland. They delved into crypto currencies and digital wallets. They were not afraid to create accounts and learn from the experts along with us, which led us to the successful launch.

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

HomeEquity Bank believes that every Canadian should be able to live in a home that they love, including Canadians who are often overlooked, such as our veterans.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

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This project has been chugging along in some capacity for over 6 months. We could have got it to market more quickly, but there were business considerations that led to some delays.

As always, we were worried the whole time that someone would get to market with a similar idea before us. However – as much people talk about the Metaverse – we are unaware of any Metaverse campaigns to have launched out Canada to date. We were relieved to get this to market ahead of the inevitable wave. 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

HomeEquity Bank really just hopes that it can raise a lot of awareness and donations for Homes for Heroes. So if you’re reading this, go visit MakeThisVillageReal.com.

Credit list for the work?

Client: HomeEquity Bank / Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo / Chief Creative Officer: Zak Mroueh / Executive Creative Director: Brian Murray / Art Directors: Vic Bath, Erin Rodness / Copywriters: Dan Cummings / Designer: Jackman Chiu / Agency Producer: Ece Inan, Sarah Dayus / Account Team: David Tremblay, Lauren Boultwood, Samantha Tang / Planning Team: Maxine Thomas / Clients: Yvonne Ziomecki, Vivianne Gauci, Erin Wilson, Niary Toodakian and Jack Wilson / Homes for Heroes Partners: Jacqueline Howard, Cameron Diggon / Media Agency: iQuanti / Media Team: Kerstin Baker Ash, Tony Hooper, Maithili Bandishti / PR Agency: Weber Shandwick / PR Team: Riya Dhaliwal, Adam Bornstein, Michelle Zucchero / Production House: Zulubot / Director: Vic Bath, Dan Cummings / Production House Producer: Ben Bentivegna / Director of Photography: Adam Griffiths / Post Production Supervisor: Sarah Dayus / Editing Company: Zulubot / Editor: Mallory Robbins / Online: Felipe Chaparro / Colour Grading: Felipe Chaparro / Music By: Asche and Spencer Stock Library / Audio Engineer: Noah Mroueh / Digital Interactive Producer: Ece Inan / 3D Architecture and Game Design House: Metaverse Architects

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