Dayton students featured in ads for local Chicken Express

By Vanesa Brashier,

If you missed the Dayton Broncos’ football season, you likely haven’t seen the clever video ads featuring Dayton students and promoting Chicken Express of Dayton.

The two-part series titled “Don’t Let Hunger Come After You” shows Dayton football players and cheerleaders vying for possession of meal boxes from Chicken Express, with the cheerleaders running off the football team. “Hunger,” in the form of a dinosaur, sees the empty chicken boxes and comes after the cheerleaders.

When a cheerleader is later found alone on the field, the hungry dinosaur comes after her. Athletic Director Jeff Nations saves the day by diverting the dino’s attention and leading the young cheerleader to safety.

The commercials were part of Chicken Express’s five-year financial commitment to help fund the Broncos’ new jumbotron, which was installed at the beginning of the school year. Over the last few days, Chicken Express has shared the videos on social media.

Jon Lee, who owns the Chicken Express franchise in Dayton, as well as three others in Baytown, Mont Belvieu and Livingston, says he wanted his commercials to not be boring for the Bronco fans as they watched home games in the stadium.

“We wanted them to be fun and exciting, something to grab people’s attention,” Lee said.

A brainstorming session between Lee and the company that shot the videos resulted in the Jurassic Park theme. Lee said the storyline will continue next season.

“We’ve already started working on them,” he said. “We have a new Chicken Express mascot that we hope to incorporate in the ads.”

Thanks to the support of Chicken Express and other businesses, like Community Resource Credit Union and Houston Methodist, the jumbotron came at no expense to Dayton ISD or the tax-paying residents of the school district.

“The jumbotron was all paid by our sponsors,” said Nations, who handled most of the fund-raising and promoting. “We started the process about two and a half years ago with a Texas company called VCR Now. They gave us plans and ideas of how to go out for sponsors.”

According to Nations, Superintendent Dr. Jessica Johnson, the school board, Dayton High School Principal Geoff McCracken and local businesses were all receptive to the idea.

“Everyone has been extremely helpful,” Nations said. “We got enough sponsors to pay for it within a five-year period and will actually have it paid off in four years. We are still taking advertisers now for the next football season. If they want to get a commercial up there, let us know.”

Nations is now looking into sponsorships for a big screen for the Dayton High School gym. Like the jumbotron at the football field, the screen could be used for playing back plays during games and featuring athletes.

“The jumbotron is actually operated by 10 of our kids who aren’t involved in sports. They run the whole thing in a studio upstairs. There is a whole class set up at the high school with about 20-30 kids,” Nations said. “The thing that shocked me about this is that many colleges have big jumbotrons and they try to find kids to run those when they come to college. It has turned into a career for some kids and that’s a really cool thing.”

For more information on advertising on the jumbotron, contact Dayton ISD at 936-258-2667.

To view the Chicken Express ads on Facebook, click on the following links:  

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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