With added development and expansion, time for FAU, community, to give a hoot

Rolando Rosa

Rolando Rosa

The Owl fingers are getting a makeover. It’s time to “Salute the Hoot.”

The idea of Owl fingers dates back to 2002, but FAU decided with a new era of football and student life at the University beckoning, it was time to rebrand it.

“It’s something that has been done already, we just said let’s make it official,” Dexter LaMont, associate athletic director for external relations said. “When you put your hands up and you put those Owls up, you’re now saluting the hoot.”

When I initially strolled upon the FAU sports website and discovered we had a new slogan for 2012, the first thing that crossed my mind was that the idea made perfect sense.

With all the new changes the school is undergoing, it is only natural for FAU to brand itself with a slogan. For a school with little sports tradition, it is a logical way to build unity among its members, faculty and alumni.

LaMont says the idea was inspired from the popularity of “The U” of UM. He believes “Salute the Hoot” can eventually be just as effective a marketing tool for FAU.

“After hearing it and listening to it, and seeing how it can be viral and expand, it’s just something that I thought was worth taking to the executive committee of the presidency,” LaMont said. “I think this is something that has some legs to it.”

So, how exactly do you “Salute the Hoot”?

Much like in the same manner as the Owl fingers, you start out by making owl eyes with your index and thumb, sticking out the remaining three fingers in the air. The difference now is that in addition to that, your arms are now crossed in an X shape. This was a recommendation from President Mary Jane Saunders after noticing it was popular among students.

The X shape makes the sign look more menacing than in the past, but will it be popular enough to stick with the student body?

The answer appears to be a resounding yes. Just ask Andy Hackett, president of the Owl Rangers, a group that paints its bodies in school colors at sporting events.

“I really like ‘Salute the Hoot’ because it rolls off your tongue,” Hackett said. “It’ll make it a lot easier to be spirited if we have a slogan that everybody knows and everybody respects.” Hackett already throws up the Owl eyes at every given opportunity.

“I do it in pretty much every picture that I’m in,” Hackett said. “Whether it’s a family photo or a sports related event where I’m crazy and painted up.”

FAU selected its new slogan, “Salute the Hoot,” after Omni Advertising conducted focus group testing and received positive feedback. Here freshman Kylie Higginbotham, undecided, and freshman Kelly Blakely, undecided, demonstrate “Salute the Hoot.” Photo by Charles Pratt.

If the leader of the most popular student fan club is such an advocate, there is no doubt “Salute the Hoot” should resonate with everyone else. The idea behind the slogan and symbol is to bring the community together; helping fellow Owls to connect with one another both locally, and even out of state.

“If I was in New York and I’m an FAU grad, and I happen to see another FAU grad, I can salute them with that,” LaMont said of an instance when the sign can be used.

Solid marketing is definitely an aspect needed to properly promote a program, but winning plays a major role in determining if this campaign will be successful. The football team went 1-11 last year in its inaugural season in the new stadium. Slogans and gimmicks are nice, but positive results are a key ingredient to bringing fans back too. Athletics knows this.

“Winning does make a big difference,” LaMont said. “It will get people more in tune to look at and act on what you’re marketing. I can market all day and provide schedule cards, brochures of that nature, they’re not going to act on it if they’re (the team) not doing well.”

Whether “Salute the Hoot” will have an immediate impact on creating a sense of school unity is unknown, but it deserves the opportunity to be given a fair chance to acclimate itself into the culture of the university.

“Traditions don’t happen overnight,” LaMont said. “So we’ve got to see it through the good or struggles we may have. No one knew this (owl fingers) for the longest and now you see the whole side of the student section putting it up at the basketball games when our guys are at the line. We need to sustain those traditions. Continue to believe in them and let them grow.”

And if they do, one day FAU will have one of the strongest fan base’s in the state.