FCB/Fire Service VR brings down the house

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FCB has launched a new campaign for the New Zealand Fire Service. Escape My House is an interactive 360-degree/virtual reality experience that takes place inside a real house fire.

NZFS and FCB are calling their collaboration “a technology first – an immersive and gripping interactive experience”.

Through interactive 360 video with a VR option, the user steps into the lounge to find a small fire has started on a clothing rack, left too close to the heater. What looks manageable is, in fact, already out of control – you have seconds to get out.

Through completing the experience, users learn why they need an escape plan.

Since Escape My House was officially launched six days ago – on Wednesday 22 March – the online tool has been experienced by 120,000+ users and the video on Facebook has been viewed more than 10 million times and shared by 86,000 people.

Beyond NZ
It has gone beyond New Zealand and has also been accessed by Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Taiwan and the United States.

The project demonstrates in a very tangible way the need for Kiwi households to be prepared for a fire. We’ve been told for years that fire is fast, it’s disorienting and terrifying. We’ve been told that, to make it out alive, we need to plan. But so many people don’t have this in place. Less than one third of New Zealand households have a detailed escape plan.

You next?
Like many issues of safety, this apathy is based on beliefs including, “It won’t happen to me”, or “I know what I’m doing – I don’t need a plan”. So, FCB set about dismantling these beliefs – a house fire could happen to you, and if you’re not ready, you might not make it out alive.

The Escape My House experience is real video footage from an actual house burning down. in Palmerston North, where all filming took place. It was a derelict house donated to the NZFC for training purposes. Everything catches fire exactly as it would in a real situation. The 360˚ cameras set up to capture the fire had to be proofed to withstand extreme heat.

With the experience, as the fire rampages through the house, obstacles start to hinder your escape. The window is jammed. The front door is deadlocked. If you haven’t planned for this, your home can quickly become a death trap.

To get people to realise they aren’t prepared for a house fire was only half the job done though. At the end of the experience users are invited to take action. Developed to compliment the online experience is the Escape Planner tool, which walks users through the quick and easy process of making a plan for their own house. A major benefit of this new resource is that users aren’t planning based on their memory of their home’s layout – a known roadblock in the past. The mobile-friendly Escape Planner tool enables them to move around their homes and check out the possible exits, while they’re planning.

FCB digital creative director Matt Barnes commented: “Getting the chance to work with the New Zealand Fire Service on this project has been both exhilarating and terrifying, in equal measures.

Being that close to a raging house fire is an experience I’ll never forget. I have always been a ‘she’ll be right’ kind of guy when it comes to making an escape plan, but the act of making Escape My House has profoundly changed my approach to getting myself and my family sorted. Hopefully this project will have the same effect on all New Zealanders.”

The Escape My House campaign is new territory for the Fire Service – moving away from telling the story of what’s at stake and, instead, looking to tackle behaviour change with a very real demonstration of the issue at hand.

Show, not tell
NZFS acting external communications manager Mel Weddell said: “It’s tough tackling the long-held, ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude of so many New Zealanders. Most worryingly, as a result, very few of us have an escape plan and safe meeting place.

“That’s why we’re excited by FCB’s creative approach of showing rather than telling, and believe it will have a positive and lasting impact on attitudes to fire preparedness and, ultimately, save lives.”


Agency: FCB
Regional Executive Creative Director: James Mok
Executive Creative Director: Tony Clewett
Creative Services Director: Jenni Doubleday
Digital Creative Director: Matthew Barnes
Creative: David Shirley
Creative: Melina Fiolitakis
Creative: Greg Wood
Head of Craft: Nick Smith
Digital Projects Director/ Exec Producer: James McMullan
Lead Interactive Designer: Andrew Jackson
Digital Designer: Geoffrey Joe
Senior Interactive Producer: Nick Pengelly
Head of Content: Pip Mayne
Content Producer: Rebecca Casey
Content Production: Blair Walker
Content Production: Reuben Boey
Content Production: Corban Koschak
Chief Strategist: David Thomason
Senior Strategist: Carl Sarney
General Manager of FCB Wellington: Sean Keaney
Account Director: Katya Frolova
Account Manager: Emilie Watts
Communications Planning Director: Anne Lipsham
Digital Strategy Director: Dan West
Digital Media Director: Steph Pearson
Media Director: Dan Currin
Media Manager: Alice Franklin
Media Buyer: Courtney Barnett
Digital Media Buyer: Kristy McAfee
Digital Campaign Manager: Abby-Rose Clarke
Senior Search Manager: Nick Sadler


Head of Brand Experience: Angela Spain
Senior Account Manager: Laura Platts
Account Executive: Katie Smith
Client: New Zealand Fire Service
Product: Escape My House
Client Name: Mel Weddell
Client Name: Craig Pearce
Client Name: Chris Kennedy
Client Name: Caroline Rosanowski
Sound Studio: Staples
Studio Producer: Josh Mitchell (Staples)
Production Company: Kaleidescope / Staples
Production Company Producer: Paul Stephenson (Kaleidescope) / Briar Pacey (PPC)
Director/Post: Matt Wilson (Kaleidescope)
VR Techs / Camera: Aliesha Staples, Edward Bellamy, Stephanie Watson (Staples)
Camera Assistant: Jason Delaveau (Staples)
Colourist: Pete Ritchie
Styling/Art dept directing: Grace Mok

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