World Vision aims to change perceptions with immersive activation

Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, the charity has tapped AR and a Game of Thrones star to help reach younger audiences.


With its first use of immersive tech and the help of a Game of Thrones star, World Vision Canada is showing millennials it’s about more than sponsoring children.

Two days prior to the June 20 event, World Vision Canada is marking the United Nations’ World Refugee Day with an activation at Toronto’s Union Station featuring augmented reality, as well as photography by Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham and Snapchat filters featuring the actor to engage younger supporters.

“We are thinking about the next generation donor,” says Michelle Michalak, director of PR and communications at World Vision Canada, so the charity is looking to attract them by involving tech in its marketing efforts.

“We are shifting perceptions around World Vision,” she says. In the past, the organization has primarily been known as a child sponsorship organization. However, Michalak notes that it works very closely with refugees, particularly children affected by armed conflict, and emergencies like flooding and drought. (Previous campaigns have highlighted sponsorship initiatives, like its Village2Village program).

For the first time, Michalak says World Vision is doing augmented reality storytelling. They developed a newspaper poster-board masthead for their immersive activation, developed in-house, where stakeholders can get a look behind the headlines by using an iPad (it hovers over the news articles and real stories come to life) to experience first-hand where World Vision is having an impact. This includes a chance to virtually experience a “child friendly space,” areas in war-torn regions where kids on the run can be free from exploitation, set up in places like Bangladesh and Syria.

Captivating images are augmenting augmented reality. Michalak says GoT star Liam Cunningham, a World Vision ambassador, has “a heart for the group’s mission,” and is sharing never-before-seen photos from his mission to South Sudan, a region plagued by conflict. To highlight #WithRefugees on June 20, anyone with the Snapchat app on-site at Union, or via a provided link, will be able to share a selfie of themselves alongside Liam Cunningham.

To engage millennials, Michelak says the group is increasingly active on social, so World Vision wants to curate more content from youth supporters and ambassadors. “The stories we are telling are not easy ones,” she says. Michelak says the group wants to show hope behind the headlines and to amplify the voice of kids in refugee camps.