NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 25

Dispatches

WILDFIRE SAFETY

SAFER WITH
SASQUATCH
BIGFOOT IS A BIG HIT AS THE
FACE OF A WILDFIRE SAFETY
CAMPAIGN IN OREGON
By Angelo Verzoni
ire safety officials in

GETT Y IMAGES

F

Oregon have enlisted
the help of one of the
region's best-known
creatures for their latest
wildfire safety campaign: Sasquatch, a
silhouetted version of whom graces a
wide range of campaign promotional
materials.
The hairy, mythical beast is believed
to roam the forests of the Pacific
Northwest, and it stands to reason
that the creature-also known as
Bigfoot-would support efforts to
keep fire out of its shaggy wildland
habitat. So far, the campaign seems
to be working. Responses to the Bigfoot branding have been positive and
plentiful, say fire officials, who are
gearing up for the creation of more
Bigfoot-themed content and products
throughout 2020.

"I don't think any of us thought
this campaign would be as successful
as it has been," Stephanie Stafford, a
fire prevention coordinator with the
Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office,
told NFPA Journal in March. "I knew
Bigfoot was a popular character, but
I didn't think our campaign would be
so popular that we would be receiving
requests from the public for t-shirts
and other products."
For 2020, the state has budgeted
funds for creating poster and t-shirt
designs associated with the campaign,
Stafford said. Its plan for the year
also includes getting the campaign's
imagery on billboards, airport advertising, email signatures, and cellphone
wallpapers.
Launched in the spring of 2019, the
campaign was born out of an idea that
struck Stafford after she came across
an image of Sasquatch on social media.
She realized it would be a perfect
spokesperson for wildfire safety, just
like Smokey Bear-two furry critters
set on protecting their homes from
human-caused wildfires. "I made the
connection that wildfires occur where
Bigfoot lives, and that creates a perfect
opportunity to build awareness around
fire prevention in the wildland/urban
interface," Stafford said.
While Bigfoot's link to wildland fire
may be new, his brand appeal was
already well established. In 2006, for
example, the Wisconsin-based beef
jerky maker Jack Link's launched an
advertising campaign that featured the
beast as the company's quasi-spokesperson; describing the strategy as
wildly successful would be an understatement. In the year following the
release of its "Messin' with Sasquatch"
campaign, Jack Link's saw a nearly 400
percent jump in media impressions,
according to the PRNEWS Group, an
online source for public relations and

communications news. The message
was clear: folks dig Bigfoot.
Stafford and her colleagues hope to
capitalize on that fact. Early campaign
images, which were mostly used on
social media, featured a shadowy Bigfoot strolling through the woods with
taglines like "Believe in fire safety" and
"Prevent wildfires ... leave only footprints." Within days of the campaign's
launch, the social posts had generated
tens of thousands of views, thousands
of likes and shares, and were flooded
with positive comments like "Love love
love these" and "Even Bigfoot has a
job."
While those numbers are encouraging, the end goal is about much
more, Stafford said. "We hope our
Bigfoot: Believe in Fire Safety campaign continues to draw attention and
ultimately creates a bigger footprint
of wildfire prevention efforts around
the state, including with our local fire
agencies who play an important role
in educating and inspiring residents
to practice fire safety around their
homes, in their communities, and in
the wildland/urban interface," she said.
"The ultimate metrics of success will
be reductions in wildfires, responses to
conflagrations, and wildfire suppression costs."
To keep up with new campaign materials, visit the Facebook page for the
Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal.
N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
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