Fictional Smokey Bear Voice Assistant Stars in New PSAs
A fictional voice assistant version of Smokey Bear is warning that only you can prevent forest fires in a set of new public service announcements. The U.S. Forest Service’s most famous mascot stars in the audio and video ads as an AI guide to fire safety, highlighting how the technology has become a go-to for answering questions, even if there isn’t a Smokey Bear AI to download (yet).
The fake Smokey AI helps out people camping and grilling with information and guidance on how to safely handle fire and stop accidents that can cause huge wild blazes. Creative agency FCB, who has handled Smokey Bear since introducing him in 1944 worked with the Forest Service, the Ad Council and the National Association of State Foresters to create the PSAs. Smokey’s 3D avatar is also present in a collection of new online tips and children’s activities created by design lab Amplifier on SmokeyBear.com, including sharable gifs.
“As we look ahead into this fire year, it’s as important as ever for all Americans to join Smokey Bear and do their part in preventing unwanted, human-caused wildfires,” National Wildfire Prevention program manager Maureen Brooks said. “This new campaign reminds all of us to be responsible when enjoying the outdoors.”
Voice assistants, real or not, have become more and more a part of the language of pop culture over the last year or two. Showcasing their real capabilities by imagining what they might be able to do has been a part of many ads for actual voice assistants. The recent Alexa Super Bowl ad where Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost imagine a mind-reading Alexa or last year’s where women imagined an Echo turning into Michael B. Jordan as he read out a book. Even the 2020 ad was about imagining history if Alexa had been there.
Examining life with voice AI for dramatic and comedic purposes crops up regularly in fiction, including the recent “Kimi” movie about a voice assistant overhearing a murder. Voice assistants have also been the villain, as Olivia Colman-voice PAL in Netflix’s “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” and in The Simpsons, as well as a comedic foil for the Muppets. Smokey Bear makes sense as another (as yet fictional) voice AI celebrity along the lines of Shaq and Melissa McCarthy.
“Smokey Bear has been an iconic character and part of the FCB story since 1944,” FCB NY chief strategy officer Todd Sussman said. “With each new campaign we are constantly revisiting how he can stay true to his purpose, while still embodying new innovations to keep him relevant today. Through Smokey’s AI Assistant, we’ve doubled down on our continued core mission to unleash creativity fueled by diversity, data and technology for all of our clients.”