SOS Amazônia’s Fusion of Gaming Entertainment and Activism: “The Originary Map”

Leo Burnett Tailor Made has partnered with SOS Amazônia to introduce “The Originary Map,” a Fortnite experience that combines gaming entertainment with social activism to raise awareness about the critical issue of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest, often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth,” is facing severe threats due to illegal logging, mining, and land clearance for agriculture. As covered in a recent article in The Drum, “The Originary Map” harnesses the power of Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular online games, to educate players about the importance of the Amazon rainforest and the urgent need for its protection.

“The Originary Map” campaign in collaboration with SOS Amazônia is live on Fortnite now. Gamers from around the world are encouraged to join the movement, explore the Amazon rainforest, and make a positive impact on the environment. By raising awareness and funds for the Huni Kuĩs project, “Young Voices,” which supports communication initiatives within the Amazon territories, this campaign demonstrates the potential for creative partnerships to drive change and address critical global issues.

We spoke with the creatives behind the campaign from our Leo Burnett Tailor Made office in Brazil to learn more about the creation of this unique digital experience and the strategy behind the merging of social activism and advertising:

How did the idea for “The Originary Map” in Fortnite originate, how did the partnership with SOS Amazonia come about and what motivated Leo Burnett Tailor Made to take on this project?

The agency and the creative team are always paying attention to global and regional problems. As Brazilian citizens, we have the responsibility to care about the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous people. The Amazon has been a pressing issue more than ever, with deforestation rates being at their highest rate in 15 years. The interruption of Indigenous land demarcation is what is facilitating this illegal exploitation. To do something about this, we needed a partnership with an ONG that had deep knowledge about the Amazon region. Once the partnership was established and we learned more about their work, the activism idea was born. SOS Amazon’s main objective is to defend extractivism (the removal of natural resources for export with minimal processing) and to protect the Amazon rainforest while supporting their native populations. Protecting these lands is not just an indigenous fight. It’s everyone’s fight, especially the next generation who will face future consequences such as climate change. This generation is actively engaged on many platforms, especially gaming.

Can you explain how the agency translated the social and environmental conflicts faced by indigenous peoples into the virtual world of Fortnite? What creative strategies were employed to engage players in these real-world issues?

Brazil has seen a 352% increase in invasions of Indigenous lands, a 30% increase in murders, and a 100% increase in cases of violence against Indigenous people since 2021. Indigenous lands are suffering constant attacks from gold miners, loggers, and land grabbers. The project, signed in partnership with the Federation of the Huni Kuĩ People of Acre State, brings the true plight of socio-environmental conflicts faced by Indigenous people whose lands are illegally invaded into light in a virtual environment.

11 months of research helped us map the territory, restructure the rivers, the fauna, and the native flora. A map equivalent to 5 million square meters of Amazon territory was established. In collaboration with biologists, indigenists, activists, and the Indigenous community itself, we translated the Amazon biome to a digital environment. The gamer’s missions are to put out fires, expel illegal miners and land grabbers, dismantle the machinery they use, clean up the rivers, and reforest the native trees.

The campaign involves various in-game challenges related to protecting forests and indigenous peoples. How did the agency help conceptualize the ideas for these challenges, and how do they align with the campaign’s goals?

We believe that “The Originary Map” is the most authentic immersive experience available that simulates the reality of the Indigenous people of the Amazon. Our main objective is to promote the map for an audience that needs to stand with us in the struggle. To do so, we must speak their language. In Brazil, 82% of young people play games online. This generation largely enjoys fighting games. A commonality is that protecting the Amazon rainforest is a constant fight, too. Our goal is to have more discourse about the realities of the Indigenous and drive support through donations for social projects that benefit the Indigenous people and generate awareness and share accurate information about the Amazon across the world.

Can you elaborate on the target audience for this campaign, especially in terms of engaging young players and inspiring them to participate in relevant social and environmental causes?

The campaign aims to leverage the interests and preferences of the target audience, making the cause of Indigenous people and the Amazon rainforest appealing and relevant to young players and online activists alike. “The Originary Map” aims to engage young individuals who are active in virtual and online spaces who often have a strong presence on social media and gaming platforms.

We developed a landing page for gamers, where they’re able to access the Fortnite code needed for “The Originary Map.” Through this, they can learn more about the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous people, the SOS Amazon’s work, and donate to Huni Kuĩs project, “Young Voices,” which supports communication initiatives within the Amazon territories. These initiatives help fine tune the skills of young people in utilizing communication tools to disseminate information about topics such as climate justice, environmental racism, territory, and the Amazon, thereby increasing the impact and reach of their messages.

In what ways do you hope that Gen Z, as digital natives, will engage with this campaign and contribute to addressing the issues faced by indigenous communities and the environment?

Gen Z is environmentally and socially conscious. They often feel strongly compelled to participate in online petitions, share content that is related to social and environmental causes, and engage in forums and discussions on these topics. The campaign recognizes that gaming has become a significant part of youth culture and seeks to leverage this interest.

How is the success of this campaign being measured?

We launched the campaign on the International Indigenous Peoples Day. We published videos on social media, generating thousands of likes and positive comments. Since our launch, well-known gamers and streamers have played the map and have exposed their large audiences to the cause. In October, one of the biggest Fortnite streamers in the world with more than 8 million subscribers, Flakes Power, will be playing “The Originary Map” live on his YouTube channel.