Jul 24, 2009 02:00 PM | 5
He’s old enough to collect social security, yet he appears stronger and more hip than ever. Smokey Bear (sometimes called Smokey the Bear) will be celebrating his 65th birthday in August, reports today’s Los Angeles Times.
The anthropomorphic bear, according to the LA Times, was born of “ad men and government bureaucrats hoping to safeguard a key war material: wood.” And after World War II, the adolescent Forest Service icon continued to spread his message that “fire was an enemy that should be eliminated.”
But in the decades that followed, suppression of natural fires thickened forests—creating more fuel for even larger infernos. Critics pointed their fingers at the now middle-aged Smokey for doing too good of a job and not distinguishing between fires that were accidentally or intentionally set and those that promoted healthy forests. A change was needed.
“Get Your Smokey On: Only you can prevent wildfires” is the catchphrase now. It headlines SmokeyBear.com, replacing the outdated “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Will this help mitigate the rampant wildfires that plague the West? That is the hope. Just today, the Weather Service issued a red flag warning for wildfire danger from the North Cascades to the Idaho Panhandle, reported The Seattle Times. More fires currently burn in California.
Smokey’s new campaign began last month with “a serious message wrapped in the knowing banter of a light beer commercial,” according to the LA Times. And to add further appeal for the 25- to 34-year-old crowd, which is most responsible for starting fires, “Smokey looks like he’s been spending a lot of time in the gym.”
Picture of Smokey Bear sign in California by Caveman 92223 via Flickr
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