When we partnered with the Duke Alumni Association to create their annual holiday video, we knew it was going to be quite fun.
Liz Young, the assistant director of marketing and communications, came up with the concept: What if the Blue Devil spread cheer by delivering Duke-themed presents to students around campus during the one of the most stressful times year? What if he surprised students by jumping up behind the counter at Beyù? What if we got him to ride around on a Segway?
Young wrote a poem to be read by Duke President Vincent Price, “‘Twas the Night Before Finals.” She scripted it out, booked Duke’s mascot, and found two students to be the actors. We were ready to spend an afternoon filming on campus.
The thing about the Blue Devil is that he doesn’t talk, making him an ideal subject to direct. If you need him to do another take, he’ll wordlessly comply.
The other thing about the Blue Devil is that he’s into shenanigans, of course. So while he’s completely game to ride around on the Segway, looping around in front of Duke Chapel several times so we can get that shot we wanted, he’s also going to take off on said Segway as the production crew whispers, “Where is he going?”
He’s going to throw snowballs and blame others.
He’s going to take a nap in the bookstore.
Another thing is that everyone knows him. It adds an extra challenge, albeit a humorous one, when your main character is the most popular guy on campus, stopping frequently to take selfies and give high fives.
Spreading Duke cheer
One of the most important questions we ask when we first launch the planning and discovery phase is, “What do you want your viewers to do after watching this video?” We want to know, of course, what this video is trying to achieve.
Young told us from the beginning that there was no action they wanted viewers to take. The holiday video was not part of a campaign; there was no money to be raised. It was simply a goofy, fun video to lift the spirits of alumni and the Duke community.
We heartily endorse goofy and fun. As we’ve noted before, when you want to connect with your community, your video should have a personality. And this video did work to achieve that goal: viewers forwarded the email, shared the video on social, and commented on it.
For many, it means fond memories and warm feelings toward their alma mater. As one commenter on YouTube said, “Love this – captures the Duke spirit of fun and family even in the midst of exams :-)”
Watch the full video:
Special thanks to students Noor Tasnim and Laurel Zhang for providing invaluable assistance to us on the shoot!
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