28 March, 2017

Escape a raging house fire in an online first

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An interactive 360 degree and virtual reality (VR) experience at escapemyhouse.co.nz. Since it launched on March 22nd it has been experienced over 120,000 times and has more than 10 million Facebook video views.

FCB New Zealand has launched a technology first in partnership with the New Zealand Fire Service. Escape My House is an immersive and gripping interactive experience that takes place inside a real house fire. New Zealanders are being given the chance to experience an actual house fire, and challenged to escape.

Through interactive 360 video, with a virtual reality (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 launched on Wednesday 22 March, the online tool has been experienced by over 120,000 users and the video on Facebook has been viewed more than 10 million times and shared by more than 86,000 people. 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[i].

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 all real video footage from an actual house burning down. The house in Palmerston North, where all filming took place, was a derelict house donated to the New Zealand Fire Service 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.

NZ Fire Service 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.”

Experience it for yourself at escapemyhouse.co.nz

 

[1] Sourced from Maori Television http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/national/holiday-period-drowning-toll-stands-eight
[1] TNS Fire Knowledge and Communications 2016 Research Report.

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