69-year-old icon Smokey Bear gets a makeover

A new campaign involving the furry forester rewards responsible campers with a bear hug, targeting 18- to 34-year-olds through mobile apps and social media.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

A new campaign for America’s wildfire-fighting icon, Smokey Bear, casts him as a “warmer” character. In contrast to his role as an ominous forest watchman, the new Smokey is more personable and gives “bear hugs” to responsible campers.

“It’s definitely the first time Smokey’s giving hugs,” Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian for the U.S. Forest Service, told The New York Times.

The changes transform Smokey from “admonishing” people to “rewarding” them, Eric Springer, chief creative officer of the L.A. office of Draftfcb, the ad agency for the campaign, told the Times.

The more personal Smokey helps facilitate a new dialogue with campers.

New commercials featuring Smokey retain the popular phrase “Only YOU can prevent wildfires,” but show responsible campers getting a hug from Smokey if they follow fire-prevention tips.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.