PSA: To prevent wildfires, channel you inner Smokey Bear

(Photo credit: The Ad Council / YouTube)
(Photo credit: The Ad Council / YouTube)

The Ad Council PSA campaign marks nearly 80 years of Smokey Bear as the mascot for wildfire prevention.

Smokey Bear is back.

On Wednesday, the Ad Council teamed up with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service to revive their iconic mascot in a wildfire prevention campaign.

Created by FCB, the agency behind Smokey Bear since he was introduced in 1944, the Smokey is Within campaign highlights people channeling their inner Smokey Bear to prevent wildfires. 

Whether on a camping trip, putting out a campfire or avoiding outdoor fire sparks from tow chains, the PSAs are meant to remind viewers that Smokey’s wisdom is within all of us, and that they can freshen up on his wildfire prevention tips by visiting 

With nine out of every ten wildfires being caused by humans, our aim is to inspire individuals to look within themselves, channel their inner Smokey and keep educated and empowered to help reduce wildfires in America,” said Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council, in a statement.

Smokey Bear has been the mascot for the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 80 years, in partnership with the Ad Council. The two organizations agreed that a fictional bear would become the symbol for their joint effort to promote forest fire prevention in 1944, with the first poster painted by artist Albert Staehle. 

By 1947, the mascot’s slogan became the familiar “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!,” a phrase that would appear in wildfire prevention ads for decades to come, and even inspire a song by Eddy Arnold. 

The campaign comes as climate change resulting in higher temperatures, droughts, charged storms and stronger winds have resulted in a devastating wildfire season in North America. On June 27, Canada surpassed the record set in 1989 for the total area burned in one wildfire season. Smog carried by wind from the wildfires led to frightful scenes and terrible air quality in New York. Officials believe these challenges could continue through the fall

“Individuals who frequent forests across the nation can play a major role in keeping our land safe from wildfires. When we look to Smokey Within to help guide our actions, we’re tapping our universal capacity to be stewards of America’s forestlands,” said Kacey KC, Nevada State forester and president of the National Association of State Foresters. 

Smokey’s latest campaign will be distributed across TV, radio, OOH and digital throughout the country. 

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