Smokey Bear, the icon of wildfire prevention advertising, turns 75 this year. But he's keeping up with the times—even appearing as an animated emoji in a new campaign from the Ad Council.
Smokey, one of the most iconic advertising mascots ever, was created by Foote, Cone & Belding in 1944. Over the years, he generally said only five words, as voiced by Sam Elliott: "Only you can prevent wildfires." But now, in a new FCB campaign, he's saying much more—using the voices of Stephen Colbert, Al Roker and Jeff Foxworthy.
Check out the spots below:
Smokey Bear is the longest-running PSA program in U.S. history, but the message remains critical. On average, almost 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by people. The Ad Council campaign is created on behalf of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
"Seventy-five years ago, FCB, in partnership with what would become the Ad Council, gave birth to Smokey Bear. All these years, he's been reminding us that 'Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.' In other words, there's a little Smokey Bear in all of us," said Susan Credle, FCB's global chief creative officer. "This year, we are asking people to listen to their inner Smokey Bear. People sharing stories about why they love the outdoors and how they protect our country's beautiful wildlife—what a perfect gift to give Smokey Bear on his 75th birthday."
"I can't think of a better birthday gift for Smokey than to have his wildfire prevention message echoed through the use of advanced social media tools like animated emojis," said Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen. "In fact, since wildfire season is year-round, Smokey's message is even more important."
"Smokey Bear and his friends know that wildfire is not just a western issue or a summer phenomenon. It's always wildfire season somewhere in the United States," said Jay Farrell, executive director of the National Association of State Foresters. "This is why it is so important that Smokey's message resonate year-round and nationwide with all Americans. This year's Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign promises to do just that."
The campaign is being distributed to media outlets nationwide and will run in donated time and space.