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.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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