Since 1944, Smokey Bear has instructed Americans that, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Smokey is an icon: 96 percent* of U.S. adults recognize him, and 70 percent are able to recall his message without prompting. Most importantly, the average number of acres lost annually to wildfire has decreased from 22 million in 1944 to an average of 6.7 million today.
To celebrate Smokey’s 70th birthday, the Ad Council, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters announced a new set of television, radio, print, outdoor and digital public service advertisements.
Created by FCB West, the ad agency that has created work for the campaign since its 1944 launch, 2014’s PSAs continue the“Smokey Bear Hug” theme. In these ads, Smokey hugs people to thank them for taking the proper actions to prevent wildfires. In return, outdoor–loving individuals across the nation are shown reciprocating with a birthday bear hug in honor of his 70 years of service.
Smokey won’t be retiring anytime soon. While he is the star of the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history–and has accomplished so much–he still has more to do: Even today, people cause nearly 90 percent wildfires nationwide, mainly by leaving campfires unattended, burning debris on windy days, improperly discarding smoking materials or BBQ coals, or operating equipment without spark arrestors.
That’s why PSAs direct viewers to www.SmokeyBear.com where they can sign a wildfire prevention pledge, learn safety tips like how to properly build and put out campfires, and access Smokey content from the past to the present. Smokey Bear continues to encourage young adults to be proactive in preventing wildfires through his social media channels. For example, audiences are encouraged to join in by posting their own #SmokeyBearHug online.
To learn more about Smokey Bear and the longest-running PSA campaign in history, please visit The Classics.
*adults who live near or recreate in wooded areas/the great outdoors