What does it mean to #ThrowYourO?
It’s how you make your mark on the world. It’s how you find your passions. Yes, it’s what you do at football games. But when you’re a Duck, it’s what you do the rest of your life.
The iconic gesture is at the heart of the UO’s two new 30-second television spots, which will air during Oregon football and basketball games, and is captured in a hashtag #ThrowYourO.
The #ThrowYourO effort invites Ducks—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and fans of the university everywhere—to share how they throw their O in pursuit of excellence.
Class of 2017 | Architecture Major | Student Ambassador | Lahaina, Hawaii
The campaign builds on Oregon lore. After Joey Harrington’s final regular season game as a Duck, when Oregon defeated Oregon State in the 2001 Civil War, the senior quarterback wanted to hear the school fight song one last time in Autzen Stadium.
So he rushed to the sideline and threw his hands up in the shape of an O—a symbol he’d seen the band directors use—to urge the Oregon Marching Band to play “Mighty Oregon,” and the band quickly complied.
Photos of the triumphant Harrington throwing his O got prominent play in the next day’s papers.
And just like that, an enduring symbol of Oregon pride was born.
Although the gesture has its roots in athletics, it’s come to mean so much more to those in the UO community. On social media, Oregon students, fans, and alumni have photographed themselves throwing their O on the tops of mountains, under the sea, and everywhere in between.
“What is exciting about #ThrowYourO is that it’s authentic and comes from something that has naturally evolved to become a symbol over the years for Ducks everywhere,” said Kyle Henley, vice president of University Communications. “It’s about that moment when you become one of the flock, and how that simple hand gesture is also a step toward unlocking the door to your future.
“It got us thinking about what it means to throw the O as both a statement about your membership in the UO family and a statement about your individual identity,” Henley said. “Today, throwing the O has become a symbol and a physical metaphor for what it means to make your mark on the world as a Duck.”
As students and staff members developed the idea and shared it with various stakeholders, they found that #ThrowYourO resonated with students, faculty, and alumni in an extraordinary way, Henley said.
“They immediately understood what it means to #ThrowYourO,” he said. “The next step was to try and capture that in the context of a 30-second commercial, and the natural source to go to was students, who know better than anyone else what it means to throw your O.”
Unlike previous commercials, which were created by outside creative agencies, the new spot was conceived and created by Oregon communications staff members. Staff videographers Dusty Whitaker and Charlie Litchfield worked closely with students to develop the idea and to shoot and edit the video.
Class of 2018 | Architecture Major | Student Ambassador | Garden City, Kansas
Student ambassadors Gustavo Feria and Kiara Galicinao appear in the two versions of the spot. Ambassadors are current students who often serve as the first contact prospective students have with the UO. They act as the UO’s public face, representing what it means to be a Duck to a large and varied audience.
“Throwing your O is definitely a great symbol of pride of being a University of Oregon student,” said Feria, an architecture major from Garden City, Kansas.
He recalls his first time on campus, and seeing students throwing Os and yelling “Go Ducks.”
“Immediately I felt there was really a great sense of community here,” he said. “I was excited to be a part of the community.”
Henley said the commercial is really a starting point. The next step is building off the spot, making it the centerpiece of a social media campaign, and expanding its use across campus for a variety of communications purposes.
“We like the fact that it’s modular and can be easily recast for various audiences,” he said. “It’s a great concept and we’re excited about where it goes from here.”