Why Thousands of Gamers Will Lay Down Their Virtual Weapons This Veterans Day

Because war isn't a game

On Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. ET, it will be game over—briefly—for online players across the globe who choose to participate in a Royal Canadian Legion campaign designed to honor veterans. 

That date marks Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada, a day when those nations—as well as the U.K., France, Australia and others—celebrate veterans and commemorate their service. This year, the nonprofit Legion and sponsor HomeEquity Bank, via ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, are asking gamers to cease digital hostilities and observe a moment of silence.

The promo below uses historical battlefield footage to stress that war is no game:

"We knew right away we had something special and impactful on our hands, and had immediate support from HomeEquity and the Legion to bring it to life," says Zula Alpha Kilo founder, CEO and creative chief Zak Mroueh.

BigTimeRob and PrismaticHub, gaming streamers with large followings across key platforms such as Twitch, Mixer and YouTube, will share the video on their social channels and help recruit peers to the cause. A YouTube pre-roll buy is also in the works. 

"The target is millennials and Gen Z whose only connection to war is through video games like Call of Duty," Mroueh says. "It's a way to reach them in a world where they're comfortable and on platforms they're fully engaged in." 

#PauseToRemember comes on the heels of the Legion's high-profile "Digital Poppy" campaign. Launched last year, that ongoing fundraiser for the Legion lets folks dedicate personalized virtual poppies to veterans and share them across social media. (The poppy has been a symbol of remembrance since World War I.) 

In a new spot backing that effort, Ardwell "Art" Eyres, 95, one of Canada's oldest World War II veterans, movingly dedicates one of the flowers to his mentor, Sgt. Major John Copeland: 

"If a 95-year-old veteran can share a digital poppy, we all can," the ad concludes. Eyres will also tweet and engage in assorted outreach to support the initiative.

As for #PauseToRemember, the goal is to make it an annual campaign and have it grow to become a global tradition. "Through word of mouth and the influence of some big names, we expect it to catch on globally," says Mroueh. "More organizations are jumping on board by the hour, so the number [of gamers who pause] could reach the hundreds of thousands or more."

Zulu Alpha Kilo devised the creative and strategy, OMD handled planning and buying, and Provident Communications led PR.

CREDITS

Client: HomeEquity Bank
Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
Art Director: Vic Bath, Michael Romaniuk
Writer: Dan Cummings, Jackson Kemp
Account Team: David Tremblay, Violet Karbalaei
Strategic Planner: Tim Hopkins, Sean Bell
Clients: Yvonne Ziomecki, Vivianne Gauci, Niary Toodakian
PR Agency: Provident Communications
PR Agency partners: Wojtek Dabrowski, Morgan McLellan
Media Agency: OMD
Media Agency Planners: Dwayne Mataseje, Mitchell Cornelisse
Production House: Zulubot
Director: Barbara Shearer
Production House Producer: Tom Evans, Colleen Allen
Production Assistant: Brennan Neufeld
Director of Photography: James Arthurs
Camera Operator: Cameron Roden
Location Sound: Daniel Hewett
Editing Company: Zulubot
Editor: Jessie Posthumus, Ashlee Mitchell
Colourist: Patrick Samaniego
Colour Assist: Evan Spicer
Music House: Eggplant Music & Sound
Engineer: Benjamin Spiller

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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