Royal Canadian Legion brings Remembrance Day message to gamers

The veterans organization launched a pair of campaigns to reach younger Canadians.

When it comes to connecting with youth, the Royal Canadian Legion faces an uphill battle. It’s been more than a hundred years since the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, which brought an end to the First World War. And although the event continues to be commemorated annually on Remembrance Day, some of its meaning risks being lost on younger generations.

So this year, the Legion worked on campaigns geared at connecting with youth in a way they are likely to find more engaging and relevant.

With agency Wunderman Thompson, it launched Remembrance Island, a custom map on the popular online video game Fortnite. The map, designed with the help of Fortnite map creator JXDVN, features WWI trenches, D-Day beaches, a Canadian military cemetery and the Vimy Ridge memorial cenotaph, and can be accessed in the game’s “creative mode” using a special code.

Unlike the standard fighting-heavy Fortnite gameplay, the only objective is for gamers to visit the island, where they can discover 30 information plaques and follow poppies until they reach a central cenotaph. Players are being encouraged to visit the monument at 11 p.m. this evening for a moment of silence and to share images or stream the event using the hashtag #SaluteThePoppy. Moving the ceremony to 11 p.m., as opposed to the traditional moment of silence at 11 a.m., was meant to meet the needs of the gaming community, according to a press release.

In a statement, Freeman D. Chute, a senior program officer at the Royal Canadian Legion, said that as time passes, the organization is needing to find new ways to reach young people and tell veterans’ stories, and that Remembrance Island is an “example of how to do just that.”

This year, the Legion also worked with agency Zulu Alpha Kilo on a “PauseToRemember” campaign aimed at recruiting younger Canadians and driving engagement with the Digital Poppy. The first Digital Poppy campaign was launched last year as a complement to the traditional lapel poppy campaign, as of way of giving Canadians – who increasingly carry less cash on their person – a new way to engage with the event.

The campaign includes a video featuring war footage and common gaming tropes. It asks players to hold an online “ceasefire” at 11 a.m. and is being supported by influencers and prominent gamers from around the world with the goal of making it a global event.

“PauseToRemember” includes a series of television, online and digital PSAs, and was sponsored by Zulu client HomeEquity Bank. A video developed for more mainstream audiences features Ardwell “Art” Eyres, one of Canada’s oldest veterans, who is dubbed “the world’s oldest social influencer.” Eyres is shown creating a social profile and paying tribute to his mentor, Sergeant Major John Copeland, by dedicating his Digital Poppy to him. It ends with a call to action: “If a 95-year-old veteran can share a digital poppy, we all can.”

“We recognized the impact that digital media could make in reaching a broader and younger audience with our message,” said Legion Dominion president Thomas D. Irvine, of “PauseToRemember” in a release. “We need to be relevant in spaces where younger audiences are spending more of their time. This campaign allows us to have a voice that encourages support and awareness in the digital space.”

Zulu led on creative and strategy, with Provident Communications handling PR and OMD overseeing media planning and buying.