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Most of us remember growing up with Saturday-morning PSAs featuring Smokey the Bear, the gentle cartoon bruin in a U.S. Forest Service hat, kindly reminding us of his famous credo: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” That ad spot, Thundercats, and a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch pretty much encapsulates my childhood.
Well, as of today, Smokey the Bear is back — bigger, badder, and more computer-generated than ever before. The Ad Council has teamed once again with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) to reawaken a new generation to the dangers humans play in starting forest fires with a major wave of television, radio, print, outdoor, and Web ads.
But he’s not exactly the same bear; a lot’s changed since his introduction in 1944. For one, he’s clearly been working out, and while his shirtlessness before seemed merely appropriate for a bear, now it seems almost…intimidating. He’s also in the business of creepily morphing out of anyone he pleases, T-1000-style. Check it out for yourself:
I had no plans to spark an ATV in a tinder-laden forest, but consider me scared straight nonetheless. As a slogan, “Get Your Smokey On” sounds perhaps a bit too much like parents trying to rap circa 2002, but the prospect of anyone in the world spontaneously changing into a towering, guilt-tripping bear ought to get the message across nicely.
Bonus: Can you guess the new celebrity voice of Smokey (when he’s not possessing people, of course)? Click here for the answer.
— Ted Alvarez