As the July 4 holiday weekend approaches, Smokey Bear is starring in new PSAs to urge Americans to be careful as they go camping, have outdoor barbecues and light fireworks, reminding them "Only you can prevent wildfires."
The effort, created pro bono by DraftFCB for the Ad Council, the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, offers new radio, outdoor and web PSAs as part of the continuing effort to "Get Your Smokey On." The latest work also includes an educational DVD created for elementary school students in English and Spanish by the Brigham Young University Ad Lab.
The PSAs urge people to go to the campaign's website, www.smokeybear.com, to take a pledge and learn more about wildfire prevention. In addition, Smokey has a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. All these channels will offer new interactive games and tools for young adults this summer.
According to the Ad Council, Smokey has helped reduce the number of acres burned by wildfires annually from about 22 million in 1944, when he was first introduced, to about 6.5 million today. While many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires, about 90% are actually caused by people through unattended campfires, burning trash on windy days, arson and carelessly discarding smoking materials or barbecue coals.
"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, senior VP-group management director at Draftfcb Orange County, in announcing the campaign. Draftfcb has been handling the volunteer effort since it began in 1944.