He's still here to warn us about wildfires, but the "new and improved" Smokey the Bear is doing it with a hug instead of a scowl.
In a new series of advertisements, Smokey the Bear is full of hugs as he encourages folks to do what they can to prevent wildfires. Rather than scolding folks who do things wrong - as Smokey has done in previous campaigns - now Smokey hugs folks who get it right.
Check out this video in which a man and woman read from a mobile phone the steps to ensure that their campfire is out. After complete the steps, Smokey pops out of the woods and doles out a big old bear hug.
The fellow in this video earns his hug by suggesting to his friends that they move their bonfire away from an area that has a lot of brush and overhanging branches.
It's certainly a departure from Smokey's previous role of scolding folks whose behavior could lead to a wildfire. And I think it's one that's much more likely to resonate with the newest generation of park visitors.
What do you think of Smokey's bear hugs?