It was on the way to his biggest game of the season that Dane Sanzenbacher realized he had a hit.
On Nov. 24, three days before Ohio State took on Michigan in the final home game of Sanzenbacher’s career, he and five classmates uploaded a class project to YouTube.com. The video, with a running length of 2:21, spoofed a recent LeBron James commercial where the NBA basketball player continually asks the camera, “What should I do?”
This time, it was Sanzenbacher posing the same question in an effort to encourage viewers to sign up and become organ donors. In pretty short order, it became clear that at least the message had gotten across.
“I’m on the walk (to the stadium) and everybody is yelling, ‘What should I do?’ ” Sanzenbacher said. “I’m like, ‘Donate, I guess.’ ”
The video was for a Marketing 750 course at OSU’s Fisher College of Business. Sanzenbacher and five classmates – Tyler Kunkle, Teryn Wessel, Melissa McGhee, Mallory Malek and Makaela Banks – put it together primarily during the week of Nov. 1, when the football team had an open week.
The assignment was part of a nationwide competition for the American Marketing Association, of which OSU has a local chapter. Students from across the country put together their projects and then had them posted on YouTube with the tag “AMASavesLives.”
Each month, the AMA selects a video of the month that lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to four minutes in length. Of the dozens of videos posted on YouTube during November, just one has more than 300 views: the one put together by Sanzenbacher and his group. However, the Sanzenbacher video will not officially be submitted to the AMA until December, when it will be hosted on its website.
As of Dec. 1 at 2 p.m., the video had been accessed 54,336 times. It is the most-watched video on YouTube solely devoted to Sanzenbacher. To add to the total, click HERE and watch it. The video is just part of the overall project, which will also factor in hits on Lifeline of Ohio’s website as well as sign-ups credited to the video.
McGhee said the video will actually be entered into two monthly competitions: one for being the best video overall and another for the most views. Should it win either category, it will be up for the video of the year in that category.
Although Sanzenbacher is the only group member featured in the video, McGhee – who is a member of OSU’s dance team – said the rest took part researching as well as shooting the video. A graduate of Toledo Central Catholic like Sanzenbacher, she and he filmed for about 12 hours in their hometown and then Sanzenbacher spent about three hours editing the film with some help from his brother.
“He’s really witty and sarcastic, so he was able to portray that side of him that most people don’t get to see,” she said. “I think people liked being able to see a different side of Dane other than just the football player.”
The group presented the video to the class Monday and professor Pat West said more than half the class had already seen it.
“Here on campus it definitely took off like wildfire,” she said with a laugh.
The video was primary shot at Sanzenbacher’s apartment complex and features the wide receiver in a variety of situations that parody the James commercial. Fellow football players DeVier Posey, Cameron Heyward, Brandon Saine and Ross Homan as well as head coach Jim Tressel display their driver’s licenses that certify them as registered organ donors.
Sanzenbacher sports a number of different outfits, from a masked, mustachioed villain to a beat poet to a high-roller in an expensive SUV. In a direct nod to James, Sanzenbacher jokes that maybe he will take his organs to South Beach.
One of the more difficult shots in the video concerned Sanzenbacher’s ability to throw the ball backward over his head and through the basket. Although he claimed to have nailed it on the second try, he had been playing around with his line so he had to try again.
“I was messing around when I was talking,” he said. “I threw it and it went in so we had to do it 10 more times until we got it again. I actually did make it so I didn’t have to Photoshop it.”
He is also seen wearing a Notre Dame basketball jersey, a school Sanzenbacher grew up cheering for.
In addition, senior men’s basketball player Jon Diebler is shown on an outdoor basketball court. He tells viewers that if he makes the three-pointer, they will have to donate. Upon swishing the shot, he turns and asks, “Would I really leave something like that to chance?”
Sanzenbacher said Diebler – the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers who lived across the hall from the wideout when the two were freshmen – kept making his attempts even as technical difficulties forced them into shooting more takes.
“It was the words part that we had to get right because either he’d make it and I was making noise in the microphone or he would say the wrong words,” he said. “It was cold out there and he was still making all of them.”
Sanzenbacher said his group came up with the idea after a representative from Lifeline of Ohio delivered a presentation to the class. The video is not hosted on the company’s website, but it has been shared via its social-networking sites. Coupled with the fact that it came out during the week of Thanksgiving, spokesperson Rachel Lewis said they had not experienced any noticeable bump in traffic.
That did not mean that it did not have any impact, however.
“The good thing is this came out on a holiday weekend when people are with their families and are in a forum where they can talk about donation,” she said. “Also, they are celebrating Thanksgiving, and so it really fits with the fact that people who receive the gift of life are grateful. It was great timing and we’ve heard so much buzz about it.”
West said there are several ways to judge whether or not the video is a success.
“In terms of for the class, the grade for his class, I look at the final report,” she said. “They’ve got a final report that they present. This was a very smart design and utilizing both Dane and some of the other athletes. The video was obviously going to get attention and get the hits that they were looking for. Their goal is to get the message out about becoming an organ donor, get young people to think about becoming organ donors.”
By those standards, Sanzenbacher said he considers the video a success.
“I can’t say how many people are organ donors now because of the video, but it’s definitely gotten enough exposure to do its job,” he said. “I’m glad it’s gotten a lot of hits and that was the point of it, to spread awareness.”