Blonde + Co Campaign Delivers Powerful Message: New York Athletes are #NotAFan of Domestic Violence

Blonde + Co Founder/CEO, Julie Stahl, answers a few questions about the campaign

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Created and produced by New York creative agency Blonde + Co for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the #NotAFan campaign inspires fans to take a stand against perpetrators. The campaign features well-known New York athletes as Yankees manager Joe Girardi; former Knicks star John Starks; Liberty’s Kiah Stokes; and Cosmos’ Lucky Mkosana and Giovanni Savarese.

The spots are airing on the MSG Network, YES Network, SNY Network, ONE World Sports and featured on the teams’ various social media platforms, websites and indoor/outdoor advertising at stadiums. Additionally, Clear Channel donated space in Times Square, and is featured on screens inside New York City taxis. 

We had the opportunity to speak with Blonde + Co Founder/CEO, Julie Stahl, about her desire to create the spot and deliver the most imporant message to the community - the seriousness of the domestic violence epidemic. 

PH: How did you get the opportunity to create the #NotAFan campaign for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)?

Stahl: With a winning pitch of course! Our director, Jimmy Ferguson, in collaboration with writer, Alexis Grenell created the original concept. Our team then crafted the strategy and execution which we presented at City Hall to representatives of the teams, stadiums, NCDAV and the Speaker of the New York City Council. I think ultimately they appreciated how the campaign would inspire fans to take a stand against perpetrators while maintaining an ominous tone conveying the seriousness of the domestic violence epidemic.

PH: What was your creative strategy?

Stahl: The goal was to grab viewers’ attention by crafting the spots to feel esthetically like more traditional sports commercials rather than a conventional PSAs, and to drive engagement across diverse viewing platforms. At first look, we wanted viewers to think this was more like a Nike or Gatorade commercial, a familiar place for sports fans to see star athletes. Once we got their attention with the cinematic visuals, we hammered home the anti-domestic violence message.

PH: How did you go about reaching out to New York athletes to be part of the campaign?

Stahl: It was a delicate negotiation with the all of the leading teams in New York City, led by Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the New York City Council, who was instrumental in getting this campaign made.

PH: What were some challenges, if any?

Stahl: This project was filled with challenges, most of them logistical in nature. First, we were asking teams and stadiums to give us access to players and venues with very little notice and at the worst timing imaginable. Not to mention we were asking athletes for their time without any of the endorsement fees normally paid to sports stars for their time on camera.

When it came to shooting, we had talent on camera for minutes, not hours which also included setting up and shooting stills. Additionally, the budget was extremely tight so we were pulling favors from every possible resource. Madison Square Garden and Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine were especially generous with their spaces.

PH: How did you handle them?

Stahl: We overcame the challenges by going with a small, nimble crew that could handle the pressure of complicated set-ups for film and also accommodate a print photography shoot, which was in fact a major component of the campaign. Almost everyone involved had to wear multiple hats! A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this project, literally.

PH: How did you find/hire The Mill and Enos Desjardin to work on the campaign alongside you?

Stahl: The Mill was a no-brainer. We have worked with The Mill on several spots in the past, and knew we would hit a homerun with them. The color aesthetic was critical to the outcome of the campaign and Jimmy, along with our DP’s Ryan Marie Helfant, R. Masseo Davis, and myself, attended the color grading sessions, which meant we were able to get the look we wanted quickly.

Enos Desjardin is a London-based sound designer who was willing to work with us despite all the restrictions we faced. He’s incredibly talented, gracious, hard-working and a true collaborator. He even worked over 30 hours straight while we were making final edit changes in order to meet the deadline .

PH: What does your hiring process typically look like?

Stahl: Beyond talent, what’s really important to us is working with people who share our values and fit our culture. We are extremely passionate people, and the experience we have collaborating as team is very important to us. We love to collaborate with individuals who share our goal of changing human behaviors for the better.

PH: Do you think making the spots more like sports commercials made this campaign more effective?

Stahl: Definitely. Domestic violence is one of those issues that people reflexively don’t want to talk about, so the conversation never happens and the issue is swept under the rug. By making the campaign feel like something they’ve seen before in a sports related advertising, we were able to suck them in and get them to pay attention. To us that creative approach made the spots, much more resonant and impactful.

PH: How do you think this campaign will change how sports leagues handle domestic issues?

Stahl: We hope this campaign will influence sports leagues to hold all teams and players accountable. Additionally, that it will send a message to sports fans that domestic violence is absolutely not acceptable by anyone, ever.

#NotAFan: Compilation from #NotAFan on Vimeo.

Creative Credits:
Production & Editorial: Blonde + Co, New York
President: Julie Stahl
Co-Writer & Director: Jimmy Ferguson
Co-Writer: Alexis Grenell
Co Ex-Producer: Glenn Chocky
Co Ex-Producer: Jennifer Susswein
Creative Directors: Julie Stahl & Grey Zisser
Associate Creative Director: Andrea Cueva
Sr. Editor: Glenn Chocky
Post Producer: Andy Fortenbacher
Editors: Josh Dion, Juan Parades
Titles & VFX: Fei Yang
Sound Design & Audio Mix: Enos Desjardin
Digital Coordinator: Madelyn Boudousque

Color Grading: The Mill, New York
Executive Producer: Sallyann Houghton
Colorist: Damien Van Der Cruyssen
VFX Producer: Katya Pavlova
Color Producer: Cameron Gray

Head Coach Cosmos: Giovanni Saverese
Cosmos: Lucky Mkosana
Yankee's coach: Joe Girardi
NY Knicks: John Starks
New York Liberty: Kiah Stokes
NY Rangers: Rod Gilbert
Speaker of NY City Council: Melissa Mark-Viverito
Body doubles/talent stand in: Francis Mercedes, Ade Otukoya

Crew Listing:
Project Manager: Victor Larue
Directors of Photography: Ryan Marie Helfant, R. Masseo Davis, Minka Farthing-Kohl
Assistant Camera: Sam Campbell, Omar Guinier, Zachary Auron, Dan Vignal
Production Design: Treatment Studios
Prop Master: Sean Callaghan
Art PA: Matt Soranno
Audio Recordist: Josh Allen, Michael Lawson
Coordinators: Eric Bellomo, Natalie Gee
PA: Wesley Ortiz
Hair & Make Up: J.P. Ramirez, Jose Rosello
Telepromter: Evan Brenner
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