The longest running campaign in Ad Council history, Smokey Bear
and his famous warning, "Only You Can Prevent Forest
Fires," was introduced to Americans in 1944. The campaign
was developed to educate the public on forest fire prevention.
At the time, accidental fires accounted for nine out of 10
forest fires and destroyed millions of acres every year.
When the campaign was created, Walt Disney loaned "Bambi"
for use on a poster for one year. The "Bambi" poster
was a success and proved that using an animal as a fire prevention
symbol would work. On August 9, 1944, the first poster of
Smokey Bear was prepared, depicting a bear pouring a bucket
of water on a campfire.
Smokey Bear became popular and, in 1952, Steve Nelson and
Jack Rollins wrote a song with the same name that would cause
a debate among Smokey enthusiasts for the next several decades.
The writers added "the" between "Smokey"
and "Bear" to maintain the rhythm, and because of
the song's popularity, Smokey Bear became known as "Smokey
the Bear" to many adoring fans. However, his name never
changed. He is still Smokey Bear.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Ad Council sponsored radio
ads, featuring Smokey Bear's "conversations" with
prominent public figures and celebrities - Bing Crosby, Art
Linkletter, Dinah Shore, Roy Rogers, and others. Smokey Bear
quickly drew enough public recognition to attract commercial
interest and in 1952, an Act of Congress passed to take Smokey
out of the public domain and place him under the control of
the Secretary of Agriculture. The Act provided for the use
of collected royalties and fees for continued education on
forest fire prevention.
Since its inception, Smokey's forest fire prevention campaign
has reduced the number of acres lost annually from 22 million
to 4 million.
In April 2001, the Ad Council updated Smokey's message to
address the increasing number of wildfires nationwide, changing
the slogan to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires."
The Smokey Bear wildfire prevention message is as vital today
as ever before. Each new generation must be reminded of their
role in wildfire prevention. Remember: Only YOU can prevent
|The Forest has Many Things
||The Deadliest Animal (1974)
||Smokey N'Da Boyz
View the collection of historic Smokey
Bear images in Smokey's
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