Smokey Bear returns to remind Americans

Smokey Bear stars in new PSAs and an Educational DVD in time for July 4th.

WASHINGTON—The Advertising Council joined today with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) and an educational DVD for elementary school students designed to provide critical information to Americans about wildfire prevention. The PSAs and DVD are being distributed prior to the July 4th holiday, a time when many people go camping, have outdoor BBQs and light fireworks.

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. However, 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 principle 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, the same volunteer agency that has created work for the campaign since 1944, the new radio, outdoor and Web 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 they encourage young adults to “Get Your Smokey On” – that is, to become like Smokey and speak up appropriately when others are acting carelessly.

“‘Get Your Smokey On’ is a call for each of us to be responsible whenever we use fire,” said Jim Hubbard, USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief for State & Private Forestry. “Smokey still needs your help in reducing the almost 70,000 wildfires that are human-caused each year.”

In addition to the new PSAs, the Brigham Young University Ad Lab created a new DVD for elementary school teachers and other educational group leaders to communicate Smokey Bear’s important messages. The DVD features a day in the forest with Smokey Bear and tells his story of wildfire prevention. Produced in both English and Spanish and in 3D animation, the DVD also contains curriculum, activities and resources for teachers. To view the DVD, visit

“Wildfire knows no boundaries and can occur in the backcountry or your backyard,” said NASF Executive Director Jay Farrell. “Smokey Bear helps state forestry agencies build awareness about wildfire prevention in communities across the U.S.”

The PSAs direct audiences to visit the campaign’s website,, where they can take a pledge and learn more about wildfire prevention. In addition to the new PSAs and website, Smokey Bear has profile pages on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube to further the reach of his messages to young adults:

* Facebook:
* Twitter:
* MySpace:
* YouTube:
* Mobile:

This summer, the campaign website and Smokey Bear’s social media channels will feature a new series of interactive games and tools designed to further encourage young adults to “Get Your Smokey On.”

“Smokey Bear’s message is just as critical as it was over 65 years ago when he was first introduced to Americans,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Through social media and by leveraging the latest technologies we have new and effective ways to engage another generation in understanding their role in wildfire prevention.”

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.

“While Smokey Bear is an iconic character known and loved by generations, his message of wildfire prevention is one that must be constantly re-introduced in new and meaningful ways to reach the public and change their behavior,” said Hilary Hamer, SVP, group management director at Draftfcb Orange County.

“One of our main goals as a University is to better the world in which we live,” said Jeff Sheets, Director, BYU Ad Lab. “There is no better client than the Ad Council and the USFS to be able to work with to help accomplish that goal. We have really loved helping bring Smokey Bear back into the lives of a whole new generation of young children through this DVD, and we hope that our rendition of Smokey’s story and tips on fire safety will be remembered for generations to come.”

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 66 years, media outlets have donated more than $1 billion in time and space for the Wildfire Prevention campaign.

The USDA Forest Service is the agency responsible for overseeing the use of Smokey Bear in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the Advertising Council. The USDA Forest Service manages 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands for the American Public. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

The National Association of State Foresters is comprised of the directors of forestry agencies from the fifty states, eight U.S. territories and associated states, and the District of Columbia. Through public-private partnership, NASF seeks to advance sustainable forestry, conservation, and protection of forest lands and their associated resources. As a partner with the USDA Forest Service, State Foresters are committed to the continued delivery of Smokey Bear’s message of personal responsibility in wildfire protection.

Draftfcb is a modern agency model for clients seeking creative, accountable marketing programs that build business and deliver a high Return on IdeasTM. With more than 136 years of combined expertise, the company has its roots in both consumer advertising and behavioral, data-driven direct marketing. The agency is the first global, behavior-based, holistic marketing communications organization to operate against a single P&L, and it places equal emphasis on creativity and accountability. The Draftfcb network spans 97 countries, with more than 9,600 employees worldwide, and is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. The agency’s global corporate leadership team includes Howard Draft, executive chairman; Laurence Boschetto, CEO and president; Jonathan Harries, vice-chairman and worldwide chief creative officer; and Neil Miller, CFO. For more information, visit

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Ad Council addresses issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

Accessibility Toolbar

WE'RE HIRING! NASF is hiring an in-house Grants & Contracts Manager.