Dunkin' on Social Media with Deja Kelly

It’s been less than a year since the NCAA allowed college athletes to take endorsements and Dunkin’ has jumped on this opportunity to put their brand in front of a new set of fans. In February, the brand announced UNC Women’s Basketball star Deja Kelly as lead captain of Team Dunkin’. Through an Instagram social media campaign, Kelly became the first college athlete to rep team Dunkin’ and we were there with cameras in hand to help the video marketing production run smoothly for the exciting announcement.

Dunkin’s agency, BBDO, reached out after being inspired by our truth x Vans with Kevin Lyons spot. Director Joshua Steadman put together a treatment for the project based on the creative brief, developing a perspective for the shoot that included colors, tones, framing and camera options. The treatment allowed the agency’s vision to come to life, adding a little of our own flavor to the mix.

Deja was the ideal athlete to work. She’s confident in herself and her look on camera. Simply a great presence to work with.

Director Joshua Steadman

Shoot day was a lot of fun behind the scenes moments like the official Team Dunkin’ jersey arriving at the last minute and a run-in with another basketball legend. With Deja being a very in-demand talent, the shoot was fast-paced, with lots of moving parts to work around her basketball practice schedule. Luckily, our producer Carla Hendrix found a basketball court a block from the Dunkin’ store. It snowed that week in Chapel Hill (a rare sight for sure). This made parts of the shoot icy and slightly challenging, especially for a basketball court. But, you'd never know Deja was surrounded by snow from the photos and videos (ahhh.....the magic of cameras).

The Dunkin’ store also didn’t fully close down for our shoot, despite the “temporarily closed” sign on the door. Tarheels still need their coffee and donuts, especially in the snow. We kept things moving for the morning donut and coffee rush, working around the clientele.

At one point, a (very) tall man made his way inside the store, which was intended to be a closed set. Our Production Coordinator, Melissa Douglas, was not expecting any additional guests that day, so just before asking him to leave, she heard Deja yell out “Coach!” which clued her in our just how special that guest was. Sure enough, Levelle Moton, former shooting guard and current coach of the North Carolina Central University was at the counter picking up Dunkin’ gift cards to give to single moms as part of his VelleCares foundation. We now had two basketball stars in the house.

Outside the shop, we had some fun with orange and pink confetti, using both confetti cannons and leaf blowers to create colorful rainstorms for Deja to dance within. We used biodegradable confetti and cleaned up as much as possible.

For the shoot, no classic 16x9 videos were delivered, only square and vertical format. Why? You guessed it, social media. Director (and also DP) Joshua Steadman switched back and forth between photo and video, using a Phaseone XF series Medium format digital camera with 120mm lens, an iPhone, and Arri Alexa Mini, to capture Deja in her natural state.

Filmed in a cinéma vérité style that matched the current feel of most Instagram and Tik Tok videos that influencers, and frankly everyone, use in 2022.

Many of the scenes had a behind the scenes flavor, a walk up shot versus a perfectly framed one. Much more relaxed and casual in their framing. We used lighting, but only just enough. Natural and not overlit with hand-held camera, emphasizing realism. It needed to feel like it was genuine and coming from Deja. Almost like a friend with a high-end camera helped her, which all ties back to that original inquiry from BBDO, creating a similar feel to the truth x Vans project.

The announcement has gathered a handful of press, from Black Enterprise Magazine and AfroTech to Bloomberg. A big step for Deja and other college sports stars.

We had a small but fantastic crew for the project. A huge thanks to all the folks that helped make this project a success.

  • Chris Young - Exec Producer
  • Carla Hendrix - Line Producer
  • Joshua Steadman - Director, DP, Still Photographer
  • Ismail Abdelkhalek - Camera Op
  • Donald Monroe - AC
  • Matt Hedt - Gaffer
  • Nijal Smith - Grip
  • Aaron Bittikofer - Audio
  • Deidre Mattingly - Stylist
  • Melissa Douglas - Covid Compliance & Production Coordinator
  • Avi Vickers - Production Assistant
  • Dani Nation - Crafty/Meals

14 Jun 2024