|Classic Smokey Bear Poster|
It's probably because my family camped so much at National Parks, as well as State Parks, in the 1960s. Inevitably, there would be Smokey Bear signs in the ranger stations, on park kiosks and even on some trees in the camping areas.
Although Smokey had a very serious message, the bear was so gentle and likable that it was easy to see why he was a favorite of kids.
That's why I was so disappointed to see a billboard last week on the way home from work featuring the brash "new" Smokey Bear that's currently featured in a TV campaign.
What's that? You didn't know there was a new version of the beloved fire prevention spokesbear? Sadly, there is – and I pretty much dislike him. Here's what the billboard – seen from I-90 Westbound just past the W. 117th Street exit – looks like (below).
Not to be completely negative, I think the current TV commercials are somewhat clever and entertaining. But I still think Smokey looks far too menacing – and needlessly "realistic" – especially his muzzle.
Anyways, I prefer the old panda-like Smokey. Remember when he looked like this (below)?
Through the years, Smokey appeared on countless posters, and in a variety of books and comics that reinforced that strong connection to kids.
I can barely bear this new bear.
However, all is not lost. The "new" Smokey's appearance seems to be limited to the TV campaign and the website. You can still purchase lots of items featuring the classic Smokey Bear through a quarterly catalog published by Woodland Enterprises (below) by special agreement with the U.S. Government.
website, where you can shop online or request a printed catalog.
Anyway, here's hoping the new CGI Smokey attracts some attention with the TV campaign, and then quietly disappears into the woods.