It seemed an unlikely fit some six years ago when the Pipeline Association for Public Awareness decided to reach out to farmers and ranchers with the 811 message by teaming up with rodeo clown JJ Harrison. Harrison is now a recognized face of the “Call 811 Before You Dig!” message. The
logo and its call to action are so ingrained with Harrison’s image that he is often called the “811 clown.”
Harrison performs in front of live audiences of more than 500,000 rodeo fans each year. Television broadcasts magnify that tenfold. And, he’s not just visible inside the arena. Harrison hosts a variety of venues during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas each December and appears nightly on the Wrangler Network during those 10 days. He
also spends several days each year in schools, helping students tackle the topic of bullying and how to eradicate that behavior.
From skits in the rodeo arena using shovels and pyrotechnics to fielding phone calls from friends wanting to dig on their ranches, Harrison provides a full range of education about 811 and its importance. His likeness is used in advertising campaigns and he can be seen in his 811 jersey on billboards and rodeo posters across the nation.
He is a direct pipeline of information to that all-important audience of farmers and ranchers. They’ll listen to Harrison. They trust him. The message sticks with them because of what he does for rodeo and who he is inside and outside of the arena.
Harrison is proud of his long-standing relation-ship with 811 and, as a former school teacher with a master’s degree in education, he enjoys spreading the valuable lesson to “call before you dig.” His message spans generations. From commercials supporting local utilities’ 811 campaigns to kids dressing like him for Halloween, Harrison and 811 are linked in people’s minds. The message sticks with them in an organic way; it’s part of JJ.
And, that is the key. Harrison is authentic and he speaks the language of farming and ranching. He knows how to educate without being overbearing with the message.
We’re thankful for those who had the vision that a rodeo clown could indeed
become such a valuable asset to the 811 program… and a Damage Prevention
Hero! To find out how you can be a part of this effort, check out pipelineawareness.
We want to bring attention to those people who go above and beyond to take actions that may prevent a damage or even save a life. Send your nominations to Michele@emailIR.com.
In this department we honor the many unsung heroes in all stakeholder groups. Some of the most important damage prevention efforts are those at the grass roots level . These heroes include : locators, excavators, facility owners, technicians, people doing public awareness presentations, and executives who approve funding for effective damage prevention programs.