The U.S. Forest Service is about to become one of the first federal organizations to run Instagram ads in the mobile-social app with a splash tomorrow to celebrate the 70th birthday of Smokey Bear.
The new man-in-a-furry-suit-and-big-ass-jeans incarnation of Smokey Bear is all about huggin' and lovin' strangers he meets in the woods. These days, who isn't? (Well, OK, Purity Bear for one.) Draftfcb in Los Angeles created this integrated Smokey campaign for the Ad Council and the U.S. Forest Service, and as always, the goal is conveying information on how to prevent forest fires. There are TV and radio spots, as well as print, outdoor and digital elements, including the hashtag #SmokeyBearHugs. Past versions of the iconic bear—and there have been many since the character was introduced in 1944—would cry, nag, lecture or simply stare down campers while brandishing a shovel to make a point about fire safety. (The recent CGI Smokey was a preachy douche.) Now, Huggy Smokey Bear literally embraces those who act responsibly, holding them lovingly in his ursine arms. At least he doesn't grin and bare it. The hugees mostly look uncomfortable and make weird faces. Perhaps they're mortified to be in such goofy PSAs.