The Secret of Smokey’s Success

In honor of Fire Prevention month, we’ll have several posts about records relating to fire prevention.

In our previous posts I introduced the real Smokey Bear and shared some public service announcements encouraging forest fire prevention. Today I’ll let you in on a little secret; Smokey has a Public Law (P.L. 82-359) protecting him.

Congress passed the law in 1952 to prevent Smokey from being used to sell commercial products. It was believed that this would dilute Smokey’s forest fire prevention message. Their strategy seems to have worked. Wildfire prevention is one of the most successful campaigns that the Ad Council has ever produced.

In addition to the Smokey PSAs, the National Archives Still Picture Branch holds many posters created by the Ad Council for the fire prevention campaign.


Local Identifier: 95-SB-13


Local Identifier: 95-SB-99


Local Identifier: 95-SB-103


Local Identifier: 95-SB-148

Forest Fire Prevention and Cooperative Fire Protection Program Posters, 1939 – 1994 National Archives Identifier: 523039 / Local Identifier: 95-SB

You can see more Smokey videos on our YouTube Channel, find records related to Smokey in OPA, and learn more about him and his message on Smokey’s web site.

4 thoughts on “The Secret of Smokey’s Success

  1. Love this! I actually portrayed Smokey Bear at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix, Arizona. I was working at the Forest Service at the time. It was the thrill of a lifetime!

    1. That’s great Cindy! I recently learned that anyone can request a Smokey appearance. (Fire prevention related appearance, of course.)

  2. I have No. 2 up in my breakfast area. Since the originals were mass produced, they are pretty inexpensive.

Comments are closed.