The most iconic words at Ole Miss are “Hotty Toddy,” but the words that precede that famous cheer are becoming a trend on campus.
“Hell yeah! Damn right!” is usually the response someone gives when asked “Are you ready?” Now, it’s also a brand.
Bo Pentecost, 38, of Madison, Mississippi, came up with the idea in 2013 while attending a personnel committee meeting at his church.
“The pastor said the staff retreat theme was ‘Are you ready?’ and gave us that look not to say ‘Hell yeah! Damn right!’ Then, I had the idea to abbreviate it to ‘HYDR’ for the super conservative people in Mississippi who did not want to use that type of language and see what happened with it,” said Pentecost.
He went to his office Solve Design Studio in Ridgeland, a company that designs logos and helps with brand and website development, designed the logo for HYDR, and created a Twitter account with the hashtag #hydr.”
“The first time I actually made anything for the public was for Double Decker weekend in April of 2013,” he said. “I made two types of stickers, one with ‘HY’ and the other with ‘DR,’ and asked folks which one they wanted, because there are two types of people in the world. People will either respond to you with a ‘Hell yeah!’ or ‘Damn right!”
During Double Decker, Pentecost put stickers on everything from the back of street signs to inside restaurants, and the “HY” and “DR” trend caught on.
Pentecost realized it was costly to have two of everything with two different acronyms, so he merged “HY” and “DR” as “HYDR,” and by 2014, the popularity had grown.
“It is amazing how I just simply put an acronym for something commonly used, and it just blew up in no time,” he said. “Now, I check Twitter, and it’s all #hydr. The funny part about it now is that mostly everyone knows HYDR now, but no one has any idea who I am. Not many people could probably say that I started the #hydr,” said Pentecost.
HYDR has begun to appear everywhere in Oxford. Pentecost began making other items in addition to the stickers – items such as posters, car decals, car magnets, koozies, caps, and tattoos can be purchased at http://www.hellyeahdamnright.com, while shirts can be purchased at JCG Apparel on the Oxford Square.
During football season, Pentecost will pass out stickers and tattoos or have someone he trusts with thousands of stickers do it.
In the past, handing stickers out at Ole Miss football games has created a conflict.
“It gets distracting handing thousands of these out when I have my wife and kids with me,” he said. “I love handing them out, but sometimes I just don’t even get to enjoy the Grove.”
This season, Pentecost is trying to mix it up. He hopes to distribute 5,000 to the public on big Ole Miss football weekends. To do this, he will assemble 500 small bags with 10 stickers and a small note saying they are courtesy of HYDR.
On Friday nights after tents have been set up, he will go through the Grove and Circle and tie the bags to random tents for tailgaters.
“The purpose of this is to help me and the people out,” he said. “It helps me enjoy the game and the Grove with my family a little bit more.”
MaryBeth Pearcy, a junior at Ole Miss, loves the stickers on game day.
“The stickers caught on really fast,” she said, “and its become something everyone loves. It was just a really clever, simple idea that no one had thought to do after all these years. I know that my friends and I have to get a sticker and game day tattoo.”
Pentecost said he has also encountered issues of people trying to imitate the brand. In November of 2014, he began trying to obtain a trademark for HYDR, and it took him until August of 2015 to do it.
“It took a while to get the trademark,” he said, “but I knew I would have to get one, because there is no way you can make a business and expect to make anything from it if others can just make the logo themselves or even make it and sell it.”
Lately, Pentecost has tried to mix up HYDR to make it a little more interesting. The game day stickers have increased in size by a quarter inch The stickers can now be found in a popular powder blue rendering, and he is currently trying to make the tattoos smaller and adhesive because the water-applied version has been hard to get off.
Pentecost does not plan to make a living off of HYDR. Instead, he wants to improve it so he can get into more retail stores and have more products that will help fund his business venture. He also wants to give some of the proceeds to charity.