Smokey Bear returns with fire-safety message

US Forest Service

Smokey Bear

The Ad Council, along with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring Smokey Bear designed to provide critical information to Americans about wildfire prevention. The PSAs are being distributed prior to the July 4th holiday, a time when many people go camping, have outdoor barbecues and light fireworks.

To coincide with the launch, Smokey Bear’s first mobile application, or app, is also available. The free smart-phone app is designed to provide critical information about wildfire prevention, including a step-by-step guide to safely building and extinguishing campfires, as well as a map of current wildfires across America.

Since his “birth” on August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of conservation and protection of America’s forests. His message about wildfire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires, from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.5 million today. Although progress has been made, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical environmental issues affecting our country. Many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, on average, 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by people. The principal causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, arson, careless discarding of smoking materials or BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.

Created pro bono by ad agency Draftfcb Orange County, the same volunteer agency that has created work for the campaign since 1944, the new television, radio and outdoor PSAs specifically target young adults who live in the wildland/urban interface—people who are likely to be casual campers, hikers, or mountain bikers —to remind them that Smokey is counting on them to prevent human-caused wildfires. The PSAs seek to continue to decrease the number of human-caused wildfires and encourage young adults to speak up when others are acting carelessly.

The PSAs direct audiences to visit the campaign’s website,www.smokeybear.com, where they can take a pledge to be smart when outdoors and learn more about wildfire prevention. To coincide with the launch of the new PSAs, Smokey Bear’s website has been updated with a look and feel that is similar to that of the new PSAs.

In addition to the new PSAs and website, Smokey Bear uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to further the reach of his messages to young adults:

This summer, Smokey Bear’s Facebook community, which includes over 40,000 people, will feature new interactive tabs with quizzes, polls, fire safety tips and much more.

The new Smokey Bear mobile app provides easy access to all of Smokey’s social media networks including his YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages. In addition to a step-by-step campfire guide and the wildfire map, the app provides free mobile wallpapers featuring classic images of Smokey Bear. By using this app, users in any location can learn the best ways to prevent wildfires and join the cause. The Smokey Bear app is available for iPhone, iPad and iTouch via iTunes (http://bit.ly/mS5ylD) and Android devices via Amazon (http://bit.ly/koIuRU). Animax Entertainment developed the apps and Cellit developed the mobile website.

“Smokey Bear and the national Wildfire Prevention campaign has done a remarkable job staying current to connect with new generations,” said NASF Executive Director Jay Farrell. “These social media tools extend the reach of state forestry agencies and the Forest Service as we spread the word about fire prevention to people across the country.”

“This new round of Smokey Bear ads continue to emphasize his longstanding message about wildfire prevention and also remind Americans that adults need to not only practice fire safety habits but also to step in when others do not,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “The campaign message is still as important today as it was 67 years ago and we are confident that this campaign will continue to receive generous support from our partners.”

Since 1944, Smokey Bear has been communicating his well-known message, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.” In 2001, the term ‘Wildfires’ was introduced to include all unwanted, unplanned fires in natural areas such as grass fires or brush fires.

“Smokey Bear and his message of wildfire prevention serve as that constant reminder that the power is in our hands—that we have the ability to help prevent wildfires by watching not only our own actions, but those of our friends and neighbors as well,” said Hilary Hamer, SVP, group management director at Draftfcb Orange County. “Wildfires can happen at any point throughout the year, but the latest version of Smokey Bear’s message comes at an important time, the peak of wildfire season.”

The Ad Council will be distributing the new PSAs to media outlets nationwide this week. Per the organization’s model, the PSAs are airing and running in advertising time that is donated by the media. Over the last 67 years, media outlets have donated more than $1 billion in time and space for the Wildfire Prevention campaign.

 

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