When the Heartland Restaurant Group (HRG)–owner of over 70 Dunkin’ locations throughout the tri-state area–was looking for ways to increase their visibility in the competitive QSR recruiting and staffing market, The Consult Box pitched an outside-the-box idea.

“We started talking in late 2021 about ways to separate ourselves from other QSRs,” said Chelsea Halker, Marketing and Guest Services Manager for HRG. “We wanted to connect our brand with prospective employees in a different and engaging way.”

While NIL deals were on the rise and beginning to gain media attention, they were still a mystery to many brands. “When we looked at their target age and demographic for potential hires, we thought working with student-athletes was a solid fit,” said Kim Bogesdorfer of The Consult Box. “Having student-athletes be able to work a shift at a local Dunkin’ location was both a fun and engaging way to bring positive attention to the brand.”

The campaign included 15 student-athletes across eight different sports from the University of Pittsburgh. The student athletes each took time to work behind the counter at the Forbes Avenue location in Oakland and try their hand at icing donuts, making specialty drinks, and handing out free samples to passers-by outside the store.

“We wanted to let their personalities drive the creative,” said Bogesdorfer, adding that “NIL is unique because you have this great diversity with the student athletes that just provides a natural and real end product. It really provides a limitless range of opportunities to match them with your brand.”

The Consult Box worked with creative agency Jaster, utilizing their on-campus connections to fill out the roster of Pitt participants.

The campaign was broken down into two release phases: the first with the student athletes announcing on Instagram they were “taking a shift and dunking,” and the second a week later revealing the videos of their experience.

“It’s been a great experience. They’ve handled it all from beginning to end with very little I or my team had to manage,” said Halker. “I’m looking forward to working on the next phase of this campaign and what other dimensions The Consult Box can bring to the table.”

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