One of the most recognizable American iconic personifications is ‘Smokey the Bear’. This guardian of our forests has been in service for forty years and is highly protected by Federal Law, the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. It is actually the longest running public service advertisement campaign in U.S history.
Smokey is a great success story for the U.S. Forest Service. Like any brands may encounter during its time of identity branding or advertising; the idea of using a character, whether it be a corky (but relatable) personalty, like a lizard or a spoon with eyes on it – can be brought to the table as a possible representative. Smokey certainly hit the profile of providing a nurturing, but stern image to carry the message of forest fire prevention. The visage of Smokey’s appearance somehow conveys an optimistic message (while quite serious), he is also bright-eyed and cajoling. This of course, is no small feat in a woodcut. This is no threatening Grizzly, while the dangers he informs the public – certainly are.
Despite the campaign’s success over the years, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country and Smokey’s message is as relevant today as it was in 1944.
Read a more detailed history of Smokey the Bear Here