Smokey Bear's famous message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was created in 1944 by the Ad Council. It’s the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history.
Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.
Smokey's debut poster (see picture above - on right) was released on August 9, 1944, which is considered his birthday, making him 65 today.
Be sure to check out the Smokey Bear website to see the history of the AD campaign. The site includes an interactive trail by decade with an extensive collection of old posters, TV/radio spots (including the famous Bambi TV spot), and other memorabilia.
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