#Ranidaphobia billboard intrigues Fort Worth area

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    What started off as a clever idea by the TCU marketing department has now become a common hashtag in the Twitter world among Horned Frog football fans.

    #Ranidaphobia recently appeared on a billboard in downtown Fort Worth, leaving many people wondering what the word actually means.

    Ranidaphobia, defined as the fear of frogs, is the latest effort by the university marketing team to promote Horned Frog football and the slogan for the current season, which is "Fear the Frog.”

    Drew Martin, the assistant athletics director for marketing and licensing, said that while the billboard is a clever and fun idea for the university, it leaves others to decipher the uncommon word themselves.

    “I think it is part of the game and part of the fun to actually intrigue folks and have them go and look up what it is,” Martin said. “Then they recognize it means ‘fear of frogs’ and they put it together with the rest of the campaign, which is ‘Fear the Frog.’”

    “Fear the Frog” debuted last season, and the phrase immediately took off at the university and in the Fort Worth community.

    “When the campaign went out with the season ticket renewals, the posters and the buses, it really caught fire and people started using it,” Martin said. “Coach [Gary] Patterson started using it as a hashtag.”

    Although the department had decided to cut back on billboards this season in order to increase advertising on buses, bus stops and street banners, Martin said the idea for the "Ranidaphobia" billboard was thrown out at a meeting one day.

    “So far I’ve seen some positive feedback,” Martin said. “Several folks have been asking ‘What’s that about?’ Then they recognize the eyes and the purple.”

    According to the Twitter website, hashtags give users a chance to “mark keywords or topics” and were designed as a way to “categorize messages.”

    But the use of hashtags does no longer ends with Twitter.

    “With all the social media platforms now such as Facbeook, Instagram and Twitter, they’re all recognizing hashtags on their platforms,” Martin said. “It wasn’t just about Twitter – it was about social media and that element of marketing campaigns.”