Meet the Skylight Company That Says Indoor Life Is Killing Us

A look at & Co.'s 'The Indoor Generation' work for Velux

People's health wouldn't seem to be a promising topic of conversation for a skylight brand. But Velux, the Denmark-based roof window and skylight company, has been obsessed with it lately—to the point of building a whole campaign around the theme, with help from Copenhagen agency & Co. 

"The Indoor Generation" is constructed around some pretty bleak facts around human life indoors, some of which can be ameliorated with Velux's products. Among the scary data: 

• Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air
• Living in damp, moldy homes increases the risk of asthma by 40 percent
• Lack of daylight makes 15 percent of people sad
• Daylight can boost your children's learning abilities by up to 15 percent
• Kids' bedrooms are often the most polluted rooms in the house

We spend, on average, 90 percent of our lives (more than 21 hours a day) indoors. Thus, the air quality and the psychological effects of that environment are extremely important, even if we rarely think about them. 

& Co. recently released a darkly cinematic film that brings some of these warning points to life. It was directed by Danish director Martin de Thurah, perhaps best known for having made the Michael Phelps spot for Under Armour a few years ago. 

Check out the Velux film here: 

The Indoor Generation by VELUX

Muse spoke with Christian Grosen, account director at & Co., about the campaign. He says it's a total reinvention of how Velux advertises, as the brand normally focuses on promoting products to the consumer. 

"We wanted to go beyond classic advertising and speak with people not as customers but as humans," he says. "We wanted to go from a classic customer-centric campaign and raise the bar to being 'human-centric.'" 

Velux isn't the only solution

Velux wanted a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of daylight and fresh air—how they are not just nice to have, but something humans need. 

"We chose to build the campaign on the fact that we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors," says Grosen. "This is a surprising fact, but to us also a stunning insight into the way we live our lives today. And it is a great gateway to explaining how lack of daylight and fresh air makes us ill." 

Coming up with a label like "The Indoor Generation" was critical to branding the problem in a way that was compelling. 

"It was vital for us to coin a creative concept that would make the indoor environment feel relevant," Grosen says. "The indoor environment is a highly complex issue, and in order to create awareness, we had to make ourselves relevant—not only to the professional segment, but to all of us. 'The Indoor Generation' is a way of talking about us and the indoor life we have in common, but also a platform for talking about the dangers that comes with it." 

Since the work is intended, at least in part, to sell skylights, there was a danger of the malady seeming trumped-up or not credible. To combat this, the campaign offers all sorts of advice and possible solutions for The Indoor Generation that have nothing to do with the client's products. 

"One solution could be to avoid chemicals. One could be to clean your home. Another could be to install a roof window," says Grosen. "In other words, Velux isn't the only solution to this problem. We all have to change the way we live, change the way we think." 

Recognizing yourself in the film

As the centerpiece creative element, the three-minute film serves several purposes—outlining the facts behind the issue, but also eliciting an emotional response that could help the viewer act. 

"Our young girl and main character, symbolizing future generations, poses important questions about our life inside homes and buildings, the places we don't want to or cannot leave," Grosen says. "Taking us through many different everyday scenarios, she points out how polluted that indoor air can be—up to five times more polluted than outdoor air—and how this is having a negative effect on our health." 

He goes on: "We wanted to engage people on a global level and have been working to capture universal insight about indoor living. We wanted people to be able to recognize themselves as part of The Indoor Generation and really feel, both mentally and physically, the importance of this agenda. Get some food for thought, but also feel the urge to open a window."

The little glass boxes provide the film's most memorable visuals, giving the feel of museum exhibits but also a sense of crushing claustrophobia. 

"The clear glass houses give us a possibility to see ourselves from the outside. As spectators to our lives," says Grosen. "They were originally created for use in exhibitions and for the lobby at Velux, but we also brought them into the film to show our evolution: We have gone from being part of nature to being apart from nature. This is thought-provoking, and we wanted to illustrate this unnatural behavior in a visually engaging and almost anthropological way." 

Velux tells Muse there have been over 80 million views of the video. According to Viral Thread, it is the U.K.'s most-viewed branded video on Facebook in 2018. Velux struck media partnerships with properties including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Viral Thread and I Fucking Love Science. 

"At Velux, we decided to do something we have never done before," says Lisbeth Meng Collignon, senior director of marketing excellence at The Velux Group. 

"We launched a purpose-driven marketing campaign to make the problems that arise from living in unhealthy homes come to light—across the globe, at the same time. The goal was not only to raise awareness of the issue but to spark a global conversation. With over 80 million views and 1 million engagements on our own and our partners' social media pages, we believe we have done just that. And it's not just a campaign any more—it is a marketing platform that we will be using for the next years." 

Grosen says the whole agency team has taken the insights and learnings to heart, and hopes the campaign can make a difference, both to change people's behavior and of course to help Velux's bottom line. 

"The purpose of this campaign is to create awareness and start a global discussion," says Grosen. "However, we also talk about solutions for the Indoor Generation in the local markets, and as such, the Indoor Generation also serves as a marketing platform for Velux." 

He adds: "We really hope we are able to create the global attention this subject deserves, and we are extremely proud to help raise awareness about the importance of daylight and fresh air, and also be part of actually changing the behavior in society." 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.