If you are in need of a hug, look no further than your nearest national park.
A new campaign for America’s wildfire-fighting icon, Smokey Bear, casts him as a “warmer” character. In contrast to his role as an ominous forest watchman, the new Smokey is more personable and gives “bear hugs” to responsible campers.
“It’s definitely the first time Smokey’s giving hugs,” Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian for the U.S. Forest Service, told The New York Times.
The changes transform Smokey from “admonishing” people to “rewarding” them, Eric Springer, chief creative officer of the L.A. office of Draftfcb, the ad agency for the campaign, told the Times.
The more personal Smokey helps facilitate a new dialogue with campers.
New commercials featuring Smokey retain the popular phrase “Only YOU can prevent wildfires,” but show responsible campers getting a hug from Smokey if they follow fire-prevention tips.