Forest Service, Ad Council launch integrated ‘Smokey Bear’ campaign

The US Forest Service and the nonprofit National Association of State Foresters (NASF) have partnered with The Ad Council to launch this year’s “Smokey Bear” forest fire-prevention campaign. The effort launched June 30.

This year’s version of the 66-year-old campaign is an integrated effort that includes TV spots, static and rich media banner ads, e-mail, mobile and social media. Draftfcb, the pro bono agency on the account since 1944, created the campaign, while creative agency Animax worked on the social media components.

“Smokey Bear’s message has evolved from just a prevention message to an intervention message,” said Ellyn Fisher, VP of PR and social media at The Ad Council. “It is not only telling people to take precautions, but to act like Smokey and intervene when you see someone acting irresponsibly.”

Nine out of 10 wildfires in the US are caused by people, according to the US Forest Service. The principle causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, arson, careless discarding of smoking materials or BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors. The organizations timed the campaign for summer camping season.

“We found the majority of people knew there was a problem with wildfires but didn’t really know what they could do about it,” said Hilary Hamer, SVP and group management director at Draftfcb. “Our entire goal was to change that behavior and teach people how they can step in and make a difference in preventing wildfires.”

The campaign targets young adults, so the push is largely social, said Fisher. The US Forest Service is using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to launch videos, games and other content through the end of the year. All of the social media refers consumers to a microsite where they can learn more about forest fire prevention.

In addition to the PSAs, the Brigham Young University Ad Lab created a DVD for teachers to educate about wildfire prevention. The DVD features a 3D animation of Smokey Bear preventing fires in the forest.

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