By The Drum, Editorial

December 6, 2023 | 5 min read

HomeEquity Bank (HEB) and Zulu Alpha Kilo have won the Chair Award at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising. Here is the award-winning case study.

HomeEquity Bank (HEB) is the leading provider of reverse mortgages in Canada, which help seniors stay in the homes they love and enjoy the retirement they’ve worked decades to achieve. HEB’s commitment to seniors goes beyond offering financial services. The company actively advocates for this demographic, speaking to issues that are relevant to their customer base. In fact, HEB’s average customer is 72 years old.

One area HEB has been strongly committed to is its support of Canadian veterans. HEB was the presenting partner for the fourth consecutive year of The Legion National Foundation’s Digital Poppy campaign for Remembrance Day 2022. Our challenge was to develop a program to demonstrate gratitude and help raise funds for this highly respected group.


To most Canadians, war feels distant, abstract, and difficult to relate to. Few of us have personal experience of conflict, and when we think of war, our minds go to far-off places. This presents challenges in developing a program for a company whose business is squarely focused on the home. To create the 2022 sponsorship, we wanted to connect the place that is most familiar to us to events and places that are physically and emotionally distant from our own personal experience.

We began thinking about what home might have meant to veterans while they were far away from it. Since there were no WWI veterans and few from WWII alive to interview, our research had to be done through historical records. We found a unique source of insight: the Canadian Letters and Images Project at Vancouver Island University, an online archive of the Canadian war experience, as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves.

When we immersed ourselves in soldiers’ letters home, we discovered the emotional resonance of home vividly sprang to life. It struck us that the feelings we have about home now are no different than those of veterans on the battlefield. This connected Canadian homeowners today to the veterans we were seeking to honour. It also led to our insight: the sacrifices of veterans no longer seem far away when you realize they once lived in the homes we now love.

The “Letters Home” campaign brought the wartime sacrifices of Canadian soldiers to life through the letters they sent home.

The team sifted through thousands of letters from the Canadian Letters and Images Project. Over 300 were chosen, from both WWI and WWII, to be replicated and sent to their original addresses in 29 cities across Canada in the weeks leading up to November 11. The residents of today met the residents of the past in an experience that was as emotional as it was unexpected.

The campaign combined emotive storytelling elements with technology to honour veterans in an unexpected way. First, the 300 replica letters that were mailed out included a QR code that directed recipients to, where they could learn more and donate to support today’s veterans.

Next, recipients’ responses were captured in a 30-second national TV spot. This was supported by social media, 10-second billboards, major-market out-of-home (TSAs), PR, and the campaign website. The thought-provoking video conveyed both the importance and power of wartime letters. The TSAs allowed Canadians to see the letters brought to life in their own neighbourhoods.

As a way for all Canadians to get involved, a website was created, featuring over 300 letters originally sent to homes across Canada. The site could be searched by address, city, or postal code to enable people to find letters near their own home. This was achieved with the Google Maps platform, using the Geocoding, Maps JavaScript, and Places APIs.

Following the search, visitors were prompted to purchase a Digital Poppy that, if the visitor wished, could be dedicated to a specific veteran.


Letters Home offered a unique and insightful window into the past, bringing a human face to war beyond statistics and names, and demonstrated how war is closer to home than we think. Despite a limited media budget, it generated significant online media coverage across Canada with over 23 million media impressions, including Toronto Sun, Postmedia, and the front page of the Times Colonist.

CBC Radio-One Toronto aired an extended five-minute segment featuring the letters and explaining the campaign’s goals. Completely by chance, one of the letters went to an Indigo employee, and the company is now looking into publishing a book of the letters.

Letters Home helped raise over $189,000 in donations for veterans and their families. At the Marketing Awards, the campaign was awarded Gold.

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