Oct. 4, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
ATLANTA - Sometimes small changes in behavior can make a big difference.
That's what author Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book, "The Tipping Point," and at Georgia State University, his theory seems to be proving true.
A wave of school spirit has been sparked (at least in part) because of a junior marketing major named Brandon French, who goes by the nickname "Frenchy."
The aspiring recording artist wrote a song about the start of GSU football, called "Blu-Blitz," that has garnered thousands of YouTube hits and made him into something of a celebrity around campus.
And every Thursday, French paints his face with a GSU blue symbol as he goes to class, spreading Panther Pride wherever he goes.
Students and others stop him and ask, "What's with the paint?" French's answer is simple.
"I'm just showing my Panther Pride," French says.
Early on, French caught the eye of the Georgia State Athletics marketing team who saw him at the "Countdown to Touchdown" event last spring.
"I said, 'Hey, we need to involve this guy. He's unique. He has a big following. He has amazing Panther Pride,'" said Kyle McKeon, a graduate research assistant in Athletics marketing department. "I wish there were about 200 more of him at Georgia State."
With Athletics' support, French performed "Blu-Blitz" (and his other song, "Bleed Blu") at the inaugural football pep rally in Library Plaza with Pounce by his side as hundreds of students cheered along. The song was also played over the speakers in the Georgia Dome during the GSU-Jacksonville State game.
"I was shocked," French said. "I wasn't expecting it. I just got up and started performing my song. It was a fun surprise."
French appeared on the jumbotron screen with students and fans singing along. He calls it the "Blu-Blitz" moment and hopes it will become a Georgia State tradition every game.
It's easy to see why French's song has become so popular. The upbeat chorus - "We in the city, we gonn' paint it blue" - easily gets stuck in your head.
But listening closer, French's lyrics are about this moment in history and its significance to the Georgia State student body, the football team and the university as a whole:
"We create the vision so we must make decisions // That later will become history 'cause we are all up in it // And you can come with us … the school is what we make it //I'm seeing where we going and the future looks amazing."
French has a lot of perspective and school pride for a student who said he was initially unsure about going to college, especially a four-year institution.
An Atlanta native who was born at Grady Memorial Hospital, French was consumed with music and focused on making a career as a recording artist. At the urging of his parents, he decided not to "put his eggs all in one basket," so he came to Georgia State and majored in marketing.
For the first two years, French was a typical commuter student; he came to class in the morning and left in the evening for his parents' Stone Mountain home.
But then everything changed last spring, when he took a hospitality administration class with Professor Deborah Robbe. The class assignment was to organize a GSU football tailgate. French's role in his group was marketing and promotion.
A classmate, Wil Bates, suggested they call the tailgate, "College Town, Downtown." French was inspired. From the catchy phrase, he wrote the song, "Blu-Blitz," and performed it for the first time at the tailgate in April. The students, and Dr. Robbe, were impressed.
French was soon approached by another GSU, student Sue-Ellen Chitunya, who was working on a football video for her final project in the "Producing Emerging Media" class. Chitunya decided to change directions on her project and sold French on the idea of making a music video for "Blu-Blitz."
"When I heard the song, I just felt the need to spread school spirit across campus by adding visuals to it," Chitunya said. "I decided to create the music video because I knew it would be a good way to get my fellow Panthers excited about the upcoming inaugural football season."
Chitunya recruited students, break-dancers and Pounce to appear in the video and integrated footage for pre-football events to go with the song. The result was a success -The video was posted on YouTube and today has more than 2,700 views.
This summer, French produced another song, "Bleed Blu," that focuses on the student experience at GSU. He also started doing his own "public service announcements," online, where he offers commentary on everything from GSU sports to his experiences as a college student. One PSA is simply, "Georgia State is the best university on the planet."
And for any GSU student or supporter who is interested in joining the "College Town, Downtown movement," French will create a picture of the person with a GSU blue background and movement's logo. It's a simple as joining the group (hitting "like") on Facebook.
"It's about bringing people together," French said. "Having school spirit adds another element besides going to class, doing homework, getting your degree and leaving. You need to make the most of your college years and you should be proud of where you go."
French says he hopes the excitement he is generating online through social media will become more visible on GSU's physical campus.
As for his personal goals, French still hopes to be a recording artist but also do marketing on the side, possibly for Georgia State.
"You're a part of Georgia State but you're part of Atlanta too," French said. "That's why in the song, I say, 'We're in the city and we're painting it blue.' I want to see Georgia State Panthers become Atlanta's college team."
To view the video of "Blu-Blitz," visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZhLUD_MNa4