New Smokey Bear PSAs Encourage Americans to Channel Their ‘Smokey Within’

By Kyle O'Brien 

Smokey Bear lives within all of us and we can channel his voice to help prevent wildfires. A new set of ads for the nearly 80-year-old public service announcement campaign from the Ad Council, National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service finds outdoorspeople using the commonsense tips from Smokey as they take on the bear’s signature look.

The new PSAs are part of the iconic Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign and look to inspire the public to share in the same values of responsibility and empowerment as Smokey himself. The spots remind audiences that when we practice fire safety, Smokey is within us all, encouraging individuals to learn more about how to help prevent wildfires at SmokeyBear.com.

“Smokey has been a household name for the last four generations. His message has been heard and heeded by countless Americans who carry his iconic ‘Only you can prevent wildfires’ with them daily,” said USDA Forest Service National Wildfire Prevention and Community Mitigation Branch Chief Maureen Brooks in a statement. “What better way to continue his legacy and illustrate the power we all have in preventing wildfires than by showing the public how Smokey is within all of us.”

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Research for the campaign found that nine out of 10 wildfires are human-caused and fully preventable. Recent data from FCB and AYTM Research shows that while 95% of Americans feel that they can make a difference in preventing fires, many don’t always know how.

Developed by FCB, the creative agency behind Smokey Bear since the character was first introduced to the world in 1944, the new “Smokey is Within” campaign highlights everyday people who channel their inner Smokey Bear in moments of need.

One spot has Smokey telling people who are putting out a campfire how to safely do so. The voice of Smokey is a woman, and the next scene shows that Smokey is actually a fellow camper channeling the Bears’ smart tactics.

In another, Smokey talks to a couple of campers who are towing a vehicle, warning them that their tow chain can spark wildfires. Smokey in this situation turns out to be a woman who knows the ins and outs of hooking up a trailer.

“It’s an honor to be carrying FCB and Smokey Bear’s legacy at a time when wildfire prevention has never been more important,” said Ida Gronblom, FCB executive creative director. “‘Smokey Bear lives within us all’ is a powerful message to remind everyone that we all play a role in wildfire prevention. To give Smokey a more lifelike look, we rebuilt his costume from scratch. By using animatronics to move his mouth and eyes, we gave true emotions to America’s favorite bear.”

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