Smokey Bear has stood the test of time, as far as government-funded, anthropomorphic, civil-minded mascots go.
Created in 1944 by the U.S. Forest Service, people buy what Smokey is selling: fire safety.
Smokey’s one simple message, “Only you can prevent wildfires” doesn’t try to blow smoke up anyone’s you-know-what.
Admittedly, people still do cause wildfires that have devastating effects, and I don’t know that it’s possible to prove the positive impact that Smokey’s campaign has made on reducing the frequency of human-caused wildfires, but for the sake of brevity, let’s assume that Smokey and his message have very high familiarity among Americans due to his pervasiveness, longevity, and personalized belt buckle (how do I get one?) AND hat.
It stands to reason that without Smokey Bear and/or his succinct slogan, carelessness by people starting fires in the wild would increase, maybe by only 1%. But even a 1% increase in wildfires can jeopardize thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of acres of wilderness and people’s lives with hellish blazes.
I’d be remiss if I left out Smokey’s relatives on the other side of the family tree– Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter– who both had successful careers of their own in changing attitudes during wartime.
And let’s not overlook the popularity that Gritty of Philadelphia Flyers fame has attained in such a short time. Sure, he is not a government figurehead, but he has fun and gets the job done of making hockey intermissions and otherwise-flaccid Twitter feeds enjoyable.
This little history lesson brings me to my point: perhaps we need a Covid-19 pandemic mascot to remind people to be cognizant of their unwise, virus-spreading habits.
So with that backdrop, here’s my mascot creation to help the country combat the sinister spread of covid:
- Mascot’s name: B. Sensa Bull
- Mascot’s description:
- A burly bull who is tough but engaging, intimidating but perceptive, the kind of dude you could hang out with at the outdoor beer garden to shoot the breeze, but only at a safe distance because he needs his personal space and has long, pointy horns that he sometimes forgets about after a few drinks and then gets animated when he sees some twerp walk in with a bright red shirt on and, in reaction to spotting the obnoxious color that sets him off, he’s liable to violently impale the lungs of anybody within six feet of him;
- Also despises getting sick
- Mascot’s catch phrase: “You keep your germs, I’ll keep mine.”
Here’s the deal: Let’s get bullish against this pandemic and move on with our lives so we can meet up for a drink in person once again and spark the fire of our spirits like old times.
Photo: Taken during a recent trip to Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge