Below the Line

Betty White channels Smokey Bear as the icon turns 75

By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

August 9, 2019 | 3 min read

Sam Elliott has been the voice of Smokey Bear for over a decade, but in a new campaign honoring Smokey’s 75th birthday, an emoji version of the bear is being voiced by nonagenarian Betty White.

In honor of Smokey’s 75th birthday today (9 August), a new public service announcement has been made by FCB New York and the Ad Council with White, who has lent her voice to a new animated emoji campaign. White joins other celebrities, including Stephen Colbert, Jeff Foxworthy and Al Roker in the emoji campaign, which started several months ago.

In her ‘honorary forest ranger’ PSA, White calls out that forest fires can be started by cars being parked on tall dry grass, and says that people need to keep the animals safe, “especially the cute, shirtless one” she says, in reference to Smokey.

Betty White Smokey Bear

Betty White is Smokey Bear for his 75th birthday

It was also announced that Smokey is returning to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with his own balloon, for the first time in decades.

Coincidentally, Elliott shares the same birthday, turning 75 years old as well on 9 August.

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The Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign is the longest running public service campaign in US history. FCB is the creative agency behind Smokey and has been working on this campaign since day one.

Other fun Smokey facts: In 1952, congress passed the Smokey Bear Act to preserve his legacy, and the US Postal Service gave him his own postage stamp in 1984.

Since the introduction of Smokey Bear and the wildfire prevention campaign in 1944, there has been a 60% decrease of wildfires in America, showing much progress, but 9 out of 10 wildfires are still caused by humans, making Smokey’s iconic message as important as ever.

Smokey Bear 75th Birthday by The Ad Council & FCB

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