Back in 2011 when BJU announced that the University would bring back its intercollegiate athletics program, the administration knew that BJU would need a mascot to represent the University.
In order to find a mascot and to get the student body involved, then BJU President Stephen Jones asked students to send in their suggestions for the new mascot.
“Dr. Stephen Jones gave us a primary objective of using the mascot selection to increase student unity and excitement,” BJU’s director of Marketing Communications. David Lovegrove said.
Lovegrove said that Marketing Communications (formerly Creative Services) thought a contest would bring everyone together, let them take part in the process and build anticipation.
“In addition, the number of entries for each option gave us a sense of how well-received that option might be,” he said. “Our desire was to make it as memorable as we could.”
BJU’s original intercollegiate athletic program started in 1928 when Bob Jones College was located in Florida, and BJC’s mascot was the Swamp Angels until the program shut down several years later.
Swamp Angels was a choice some students had submitted for the mascot selection contest, but was ultimately not chosen as the new mascot.
“We certainly considered Swamp Angels, and a few people submitted it,” Lovegrove said. “It wasn’t a popular choice; most people viewed it as a fun part of our history and heritage, but not necessarily something we wanted to live with today.”
Lovegrove said some other reasons that Swamp Angels was not chosen were because it would be difficult to portray visually, and geographically “swamp” fit better with Florida than it did with South Carolina.
“We also wanted people to take our athletes and teams seriously,” Lovegrove said. “We wanted a name that was unique. We wanted it to portray power and dominance.”
Lovegrove said that the mascot name also had to be easy to say in line with “Bob Jones University”, and it also needed to be easy to illustrate in a logo.
Lovegrove said some names like Bobcats and Narwhals were ruled out because they were either too corny or unrelated to the school.
“The list was eventually narrowed down to Bruins, Lions, Griffins and Bluehawks,” Lovegrove said.
After Stephen Jones made the final choice for the mascot, the marketing communications team began developing a logo and brainstorming for a big reveal that they named “Midnight Madness.”
Valerie Girton of Marketing Communications said they purchased websites for each of the mascots they were seriously considering so no one would guess the final choice.
As a precaution and a joke, the marketing staff referred to the project at all times with the code name “Narwhal.”
“We made everyone sign this pledge that we weren’t going to talk about it outside of our group, because it had to be top secret,” Girton said.
The staff even designed a T-shirt with a narwhal on it that said, “loose lips sink ships.”
Marketing Communiactions also decided to increase the mystery by spreading false rumors.
“We thought it’d be really funny to plant false information, so we left pieces of trash around campus…that had sketches for bluehawks on it,” Girton said.
“Back then Facilities was campus students; we were kind of hoping one of them would pick it up [and start a rumor],” she said.
To further build anticipation of the reveal, the marketing team released teaser videos on a webite they named projectnarwhal.com. The funny videos featured students and faculty presenting a case for their preferred fake mascot options.
The University also created a “candid camera” spoof with a speaker in the underground tunnels that would “growl” at those walking by. A surveillance van with a camera recorded the reactions to the sidewalk surprise.
The BJU family packed out the DFH for “Midnight Madness.”
After the preliminary events of a dunking contest and student/alumni basketball game, the lights went out and the theme music, written by composer and BJU Press employee Brian Budda, began to play.
A video played that showed the mascot approaching the main court, then shut off as spotlights lit up an upper-level doorway.
The mascot burst through the doors, greeted by a full house of excited fans.
The bear made his way onto the court where he led a group of students in the unrolling of a giant banner that finally revealed the logo and mascot name, the Bruins.
One more video played after the mascot’s exit near the end of the night.
“We showed a video of Brody driving a car to Stephen Jones’ house, getting out of the car, taking off the head and giving Erin a kiss,” Girton said. “Everyone just freaked out. There were people who truly believed he was in the costume the whole time.”
The name Brody was also selected by the student body.
“Students emailed me several hundred suggestions for the name, then we built a website for voting on them,” Lovegrove said.
“We made it into a bit of a game, where you would see a name and vote for or against it; then another name would pop up to vote on, and you could do that as long as you wanted,” Lovegrove said.
Eventually, the top-voted name was Brody and Brody the Bruin became official.