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Behind the Work

The Reality of Veteran Homelessness

The Reality of Veteran Homelessness

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

October 6, 2020

A new campaign by Havas Chicago explores the stories of US Veterans who battled homelessness after serving their country.

“Homelessness in any form is horrible, but there is something just epically unfair when it happens to people who have served their country"

The sacrifice involved in serving one’s country is well recognized, but for many military Veterans the real battle begins upon returning home. Every night in America, more than 37,000 Veterans find themselves sleeping on the street, without a basic support system to help navigate civilian life. This stark reality inspired Havas Chicago’s latest installation, “The Battle Home,” which highlights the plight of homeless Veterans across America. The impactful campaign is a collaboration between the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the vital work of the Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Missouri-based organization with a goal to eliminate Veteran homelessness nationwide.

Since its establishment in 2016, one of VCP’s most meaningful contributions to the lives of Veterans has been the development of VCP Village, a specialized community of 49 tiny homes with onsite services to help homeless Veterans transition to permanent housing. This inspiring community served as the inspiration for the creative, production and account teams at Havas Chicago who rolled out an immersive experience for visitors to Kansas City’s Union Station in July and August.

“The Battle Home” was brought to life through a tiny house which replicated the homes at VCP Village. Its bricks were constructed of sleeping bags so many homeless Veterans find themselves familiar with.

The idea for the project was first sparked when Havas Chicago and NAR worked together on the organization’s Good Neighbor Awards in 2019, where the agency first encountered Mark Solomon, a Veteran, REALTOR® and one of the founders of VCP. The original brief was to simply congratulate Mark in a more traditional out-of-home execution. However, the account and creative teams saw an opportunity to bring the story to life in a richer way and worked together to expand the opportunity to an interactive experience.

“Mark Solomon’s story was so inspiring,” said Brett Terblanche, Creative Director of Havas Chicago.

“When we thought about how NAR might creatively recognize his pioneering work, an insight about sleeping bags led us to really focus on them as a storytelling device. We were also struck by the statistics.

“On a given night in America, more than 37,000 Veterans will be back in a sleeping bag on the street. To bring awareness to VCP, we used ‘bricks’ made from sleeping bags to build a replica of one of VCP’s tiny homes.”

 

"The home was outfitted with QR codes that allowed visitors to experience the true stories of Veterans’ journeys from living on the street to living in a tiny home provided by VCP"

The installation encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in 11 stories of Veterans who experienced homelessness after serving their country. The heartfelt videos were shot in documentary form and accessed by visitors’ through QR codes placed on the installation’s walls.

Lewis McVey, Group Creative Director of Havas Chicago said: “Homelessness in any form is horrible, but there is something just epically unfair and angering when it happens to people who have served their country.”

“Our goal was to educate the public about Veteran homelessness, create empathy and awareness of their experiences, and show people how they can help by supporting VCP.”

“The home was outfitted with QR codes that allowed visitors to experience the true stories of Veterans’ journeys from living on the street to living in a tiny home provided by VCP. We had 11 stories, all first person and shot in a documentary way, with these immersive soundscapes. QR was the best way to activate them right there in your hand. To pull you in close and quickly.”

The meaningful campaign exhibited NAR’s desire to signify the heart behind their work.

“One of the things that makes REALTORS® special is their deep commitment to the communities they serve,” said McVey. “Over 70% of them volunteer and NAR does an amazing job supporting these members and their causes through the Good Neighbor Awards. Mark Solomon’s Veterans Community Project is an amazing proof point for the NAR brand, so for us it’s simply a privilege to help tell VCP’s story, support the brand and do some good through our work.”

Terblanche added: “While the stories were very difficult to listen to from the interviews, knowing we had the opportunity to celebrate and make people aware of the incredible work VCP and Mark Solomon are doing to help these heroes get their lives back on track, was a very rewarding experience for the entire team.”

The Battle Home is a great example of a collaborative, cross-functional team effort between creative, account and production. From extensive searching for an ideal venue during a pandemic, to finding an artist in Kansas City to help construct the replica, Havas Chicago’s production team was essential to this project’s success. They were dedicated to materializing the creative vision while simultaneously managing the budget, which meant taking innovative approaches to content capture, fabrication and UX.

In the end, the installation was successful in getting people to feel something, in order to do something. Added McVey: “The Battle Home ultimately tells a powerful story of hope. VCP is in the business of hope and we really wanted people to feel that.”

Explore more Veteran stories from “The Battle Home.”

“Homelessness in any form is horrible, but there is something just epically unfair when it happens to people who have served their country"

The sacrifice involved in serving one’s country is well recognized, but for many military Veterans the real battle begins upon returning home. Every night in America, more than 37,000 Veterans find themselves sleeping on the street, without a basic support system to help navigate civilian life. This stark reality inspired Havas Chicago’s latest installation, “The Battle Home,” which highlights the plight of homeless Veterans across America. The impactful campaign is a collaboration between the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the vital work of the Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Missouri-based organization with a goal to eliminate Veteran homelessness nationwide.

Since its establishment in 2016, one of VCP’s most meaningful contributions to the lives of Veterans has been the development of VCP Village, a specialized community of 49 tiny homes with onsite services to help homeless Veterans transition to permanent housing. This inspiring community served as the inspiration for the creative, production and account teams at Havas Chicago who rolled out an immersive experience for visitors to Kansas City’s Union Station in July and August.

“The Battle Home” was brought to life through a tiny house which replicated the homes at VCP Village. Its bricks were constructed of sleeping bags so many homeless Veterans find themselves familiar with.

The idea for the project was first sparked when Havas Chicago and NAR worked together on the organization’s Good Neighbor Awards in 2019, where the agency first encountered Mark Solomon, a Veteran, REALTOR® and one of the founders of VCP. The original brief was to simply congratulate Mark in a more traditional out-of-home execution. However, the account and creative teams saw an opportunity to bring the story to life in a richer way and worked together to expand the opportunity to an interactive experience.

“Mark Solomon’s story was so inspiring,” said Brett Terblanche, Creative Director of Havas Chicago.

“When we thought about how NAR might creatively recognize his pioneering work, an insight about sleeping bags led us to really focus on them as a storytelling device. We were also struck by the statistics.

“On a given night in America, more than 37,000 Veterans will be back in a sleeping bag on the street. To bring awareness to VCP, we used ‘bricks’ made from sleeping bags to build a replica of one of VCP’s tiny homes.”

 

"The home was outfitted with QR codes that allowed visitors to experience the true stories of Veterans’ journeys from living on the street to living in a tiny home provided by VCP"

The installation encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in 11 stories of Veterans who experienced homelessness after serving their country. The heartfelt videos were shot in documentary form and accessed by visitors’ through QR codes placed on the installation’s walls.

Lewis McVey, Group Creative Director of Havas Chicago said: “Homelessness in any form is horrible, but there is something just epically unfair and angering when it happens to people who have served their country.”

“Our goal was to educate the public about Veteran homelessness, create empathy and awareness of their experiences, and show people how they can help by supporting VCP.”

“The home was outfitted with QR codes that allowed visitors to experience the true stories of Veterans’ journeys from living on the street to living in a tiny home provided by VCP. We had 11 stories, all first person and shot in a documentary way, with these immersive soundscapes. QR was the best way to activate them right there in your hand. To pull you in close and quickly.”

The meaningful campaign exhibited NAR’s desire to signify the heart behind their work.

“One of the things that makes REALTORS® special is their deep commitment to the communities they serve,” said McVey. “Over 70% of them volunteer and NAR does an amazing job supporting these members and their causes through the Good Neighbor Awards. Mark Solomon’s Veterans Community Project is an amazing proof point for the NAR brand, so for us it’s simply a privilege to help tell VCP’s story, support the brand and do some good through our work.”

Terblanche added: “While the stories were very difficult to listen to from the interviews, knowing we had the opportunity to celebrate and make people aware of the incredible work VCP and Mark Solomon are doing to help these heroes get their lives back on track, was a very rewarding experience for the entire team.”

The Battle Home is a great example of a collaborative, cross-functional team effort between creative, account and production. From extensive searching for an ideal venue during a pandemic, to finding an artist in Kansas City to help construct the replica, Havas Chicago’s production team was essential to this project’s success. They were dedicated to materializing the creative vision while simultaneously managing the budget, which meant taking innovative approaches to content capture, fabrication and UX.

In the end, the installation was successful in getting people to feel something, in order to do something. Added McVey: “The Battle Home ultimately tells a powerful story of hope. VCP is in the business of hope and we really wanted people to feel that.”

Explore more Veteran stories from “The Battle Home.”

Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.

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