Smokey Bear turns 70, gives out hugs

Today in honor of Smokey Bear’s 70th year the Ad Council released two new public service announcements. The concept in the video above, Smokey being horrified by the flames from 70 candles on his birthday cake, was developed from suggestions by Brigham Young University students. 

The video below shows Smokey hugging someone who prevented the safety chains on his trailer from dragging the ground and creating dangerous sparks.

Here are some interesting facts found in an article at the Orlando Sentinel:

  • A 1952 anthem celebrated “Smokey the Bear” and stirred a debate that lasted several decades. To maintain the proper rhythm in the song, the writers added “the” to the name, etching Smokey the Bear into the public psyche. But his name always was, and still is, Smokey Bear.
  • The venerable Chicago ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding has represented Smokey Bear on a pro bono basis since he was a cub. As a public service, executives in the agency’s Los Angeles office now volunteer their time to produce ads featuring the bear.
  • Federal law places tight restrictions on how Smokey Bear can be used and what he can say. He is allowed to utter just one line: “Only you can prevent wildfires.” For 54 years, Smokey said: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The line was modified in 2001 to recognize the danger near more urban areas to “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
  • [In the new ad campaign,] Smokey Bear also took on a softer image. He doesn’t growl as much, and now he gives out bearhugs.”The bearhug campaign is refreshing the brand, and making him seem more lovable — and more relevant,” FCB’s Springer said. “We didn’t want him to be mad at mankind for starting forest fires.”

In an acknowledgment of the digital age, Smokey is now on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. And of course he has a webpage, and even his own Zip Code, 20252.


Betty White begins her work as Honorary Forest Ranger

Betty White has started her duties as an Honorary Forest Ranger, after being appointed to the position in September. One of the first things she did was to appear with Smokey Bear in this public service announcement.

Other Honorary Forest Rangers are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Leavell, keyboard player for the Rolling Stones.

If the video will not play on your device click HERE to see it on YouTube.


Wildfire Today reader creates Smokey Bear Jack O’Lantern

Smokey Bear pumpkin

Smokey Bear pumpkin by Steve

Steve read the instructions for creating a Smokey Bear Jack O’Lantern and executed them brilliantly, as you can see in the photo above. He said it’s his “best pumpkin carving yet!” His primary tool was a Dremel with a small drill bit. It took about two hours.

Thanks Steve. Great job! It is also an excellent photograph.

Happy Halloween everyone!


UPDATE November 1, 2013:

Michael created the one below. He said it takes a lot longer than you would think. He also used a Dremel tool.

Smokey Bear pumpkin

Smokey Bear pumpkin by Michael


Smokey Bear in space

Smokey Bear on ISS

Smokey Bear on the International Space Station. Photo by NASA.

Last year when NASA astronaut Joe Acaba flew aboard the International Space Station he took along a Smokey Bear action figure. In this video Mr. Acaba talks about observing wildfires from space and the importance of preventing human-caused wildfires.

As of noon MDT October 19 the video has only been viewed 378 times since it was uploaded over four months ago. Let’s see if we can improve that number by clicking on the play button above.

And speaking of Smokey Bear videos, the 30-second PSA below was just uploaded to YouTube four days ago — October 15, 2013. Be the first on your block to view it.

I think the above fire prevention video is very good — better than most. It actually has a call to action that the typical viewer can understand, implement, and which could produce positive results. When a billboard or video simply says “Prevent Forest Fires”, or “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” without providing a suggestion as to HOW, the effectiveness can be questioned.