As the global issue of refugees increases in importance and urgency, resistance to accepting them into Western countries is also escalating. Reasons for this are many, but a primary factor is the inability to truly empathize with people who have literally risked everything to secure safety for themselves and their families.

What if war came to North America and you were forced to flee with your family, as violence ripped apart your community? This concept seeks to create an intimate first-person experience from a western point of view. Using portable VR technology, the viewer is put into the shoes of a North American refugee. In this setting, they will feel the danger, emotion and drama of what it is to be a refugee in their own country.

The Challenge

The refugee crisis has been receiving international attention. Stories, documentaries and even other 360º videos, have been widely circulated. These all served the subject well, but they also felt passive in the way a viewer interacted with them.

The Refugee Experience is a short film that pushed the way virtual reality was being used as a storytelling device – combining innovatively shot 360º video with practical and computer generated effects along side spatial audio.

War comes to Canada

A Canadian city was transformed into a war-torn country with chaotic check-points and intense airstrikes, as well as massive refugee camps with the backdrop of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Next, practical effects and CGI were implemented and fine-tuned the virtual reality experience. Before launching the video online, the experience was taken across Canada and the reactions were filmed – they were incredible and raw.


Creating Empathy for Refugees

In just three weeks, the Refugee VR Experience garnered huge buzz. This was the ROI. This campaign did not have traditional goals, such as leads and sales. The aim with this campaign was to create empathy, activism and engagement. This was achieved with every share, retweet and view and still see the results increasing to this day.

3 MillionCanadians Reached

1.2 MillionVideo Views

Over 200,000Active Engagements