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1944: America is introduced to Smokey Bear

Ellyn Fisher, senior vice-president of public relations and social media, the Advertising Council

Smokey Bear

Since its inception in 1942, the Ad Council has created a number of iconic campaigns that have had real impact on the country, but it’s longest running campaign, Smokey Bear and his famous ‘Only You can Prevent Forest Fires’ tagline, is among the most recognized and loved.

Smokey first appeared in a forestfire prevention poster in 1944. He was created by agency Foote Cone & Belding (now FCB), which still works on the campaign to this day, representing the longest pro bono agency relationship in US history.

Created for the US Forest Service, the Wildfire Prevention campaign has had a substantial impact since it rolled out. Today, eight in 10 adults believe they can make a difference in preventing wildfire.

While Smokey Bear’s message has for the most part stayed the same over the years, he has evolved to stay relevant to today’s consumers. Smokey now spreads his message through his own Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts where he provides tips and engages young adults in being proactive in preventing wildfires.

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