Hug It Out With the New, Improved Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear embraces a new era with friendly approach to preventing wildfires

Wrapped in a fuzzy warm embrace of fur, Smokey Bear lets you know, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

A new public service announcement that kicked-off this month aims to raise awareness of wildfires—one bear hug at a time. 

#SmokeyBearHugs is the hash tag that represents the Advertising Council’s push to revamp Smokey Bear’s message and reach a younger demographic through social media during the peak months of fire season. The finger-wagging, authority-figure Smokey of old is now a concerned, bear-hugging friend.

Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian at the United States Forest Service in Washington, told The New York Times, “The Ad Council doesn’t change the image of Smokey Bear lightly or often.”

The reason to do so now, he said, was recent surveys showing that although Smokey “is very recognizable,” many people — particularly those ages 18 to 34 — “weren’t sure what Smokey was asking them to do tangibly” to help prevent wildfires.

The 69-year-old bear is using the warmth of hugs to reward people for taking responsibility for their actions and who have the skills to properly extinguish a campfire.

You can watch Smokey Bear 2.0 dole out a hug in the video below.