Veterans Affairs broadens the scope of remembrance

A new campaign aims to connect the holiday to more recent missions, peacekeeping and relief efforts at home.

A new campaign from Veteran Affairs Canada aims to broaden the focus of Remembrance Day in order to better resonate with a new generation of Canadians who lack a direct connection to the World Wars.

“Ten years ago, we all in our mind’s eye knew what the Remembrance Day spot was going to look like. It’d be veterans surrounding memorials and cenotaphs, and the underlying message was always about the last surviving veterans of the World Wars,” says Brian Howlett, partner and CCO at Agency59, which developed the campaign. “We looked at this as a chance to move away from the typical Remembrance Day commemoration.”

While the sacrifices made by veterans in the World Wars are still important and the spot does still acknowledge and pay respect to those sacrifices, the agency uses archival footage from other missions where Canadian veterans have served, including the wars in Korea and Afghanistan, as well as various peacekeeping efforts.

The spot even incorporates some domestic footage, Howlett says, to reflect the efforts of Canadian soldiers here at home in times of natural disaster.

“There’s a conscious effort to show more contemporary footage,” he explains. “People often think of Remembrance Day as being about those who died in war, but it’s also about those who sacrificed in any kind of mission, and those who come home but might not have come home whole.”

By using that archival footage – and tapping into the intensity of the emotions experienced both by veterans and the people who support them – the goal is to convey a message that speaks to the broadest possible audience of Canadians, including younger people who don’t have direct ties to a veteran: Remembrance Day is “the most unforgettable day of the year.”

The campaign launched Nov. 1 with a digital and social media push, with “a big burst” planned to launch on TV on Friday. It will also involve digital OOH installations such as a live Twitter-enabled installation in Toronto’s Dundas Square fed through the hashtag #CanadaRemembers, a custom Snapchat lens, and placements within video games including Madden, NBA and the Sims.

Cossette handled media for the campaign.