'Gangnam Style' Video Meets Mulerider Style at University

A small Arkansas university puts a unique spin on a popular music video.

by / November 6, 2012 0
Screenshot of Southern Arkansas University President David Rankin and theatre student Terrence Lee doing the Gangman style dance on a YouTube video.

A popular music video with more than 614 million pageviews inspired a small Arkansas university to put their own twist on the idea.

Southern Arkansas University pulled together more than 300 students, faculty, staff and administrators to show off it's complete college experience. They danced to the catchy music from the original "Gangnam Style" video, which came out of South Korea. Even university President David Rankin joined in on the fun.

Communications Director Aaron Street came up with the idea after his 18-year-old stepdaughter showed him the original "Gangnam Style" video. Because social media is such a great way to reach prospective students, he brainstormed how to make a cool video on Mulerider Style, named after the university's mascot.

"When I saw the video, I immediately thought it would be fun to get our campus involved and think of ways we could put our spin on it," Street said.

Two days after his stepdaughter showed him the video, Street sent an email to a few people on campus who could help mobilize different student groups.

Street's boss took the idea to the other vice presidents, and the president and pitched it as a way to get essentially no-cost promotion for the university. At a time when budgets are tight, anything that doesn't cost too much to produce in house helps. And these administrators rolled with it.

"When they started trusting us with this crazy idea, we knew we had to produce something special," Street said.

Street and his sidekick Michael Korenegay, a digital cinema student, spent less than two weeks pulling together the video. They used the lyrics from the original video and added the words "Mulerider Style" and "rider style." They also replaced "sexy lady" with "hey SAU."

Theatre student Terrence Lee played the main character. And business student Shaun Smith, who appeared on season three of CMT's Sweet Home Alabama, also made an appearance with rodeo team members. The video included students from a variety of sports teams, majors and associations. 

The buzz started immediately after the video went up on YouTube in late October. And it even spread to the Arkansas Legislature. The president and vice presidents had a meeting in Little Rock recently with state legislators, the budget committee and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, who all knew about the video and were talking about it.

As of Nov. 5, the video had garnered more than 32,000 pageviews. While the university does advertise some in newspapers, on the radio and on TV, those methods don't work nearly as well as catchy videos like this one, Street said.

"These days, kids are online, and they're on Facebook and they're on YouTube," he said, "and it's harder to reach them with those more traditional types of advertising."

Tanya Roscorla Former Managing Editor

Tanya Roscorla covered ed tech from 2009-2017.