Mad Men Miss the Mark

By Eben Lehman on September 23, 2008

The Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame has just this week announced 2008’s class of inductees.  The advertising characters Geico Caveman and the Serta Sheep have been honored, alongside previously inducted icons such as the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Colonel Sanders, and the Kool-Aid Man.  Shockingly, the U.S. Forest Service’s Smokey Bear was again denied the bronze plaque and lamppost banner that comes with a place on the Walk.

While public voting is the reason for Smokey’s egregious exclusion, there is no doubt that he deserves a prime spot within any discussion of influential marketing icons.  Smokey Bear is the face of one of the most successful campaigns (actually too successful, some have argued) of the 20th century.  It has been stated that at one point Smokey was the third most recognized figure in American popular culture, behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse.  Not only that, but in 1964 the U.S. Post Office gave Smokey his own zip code (20252) due to the overwhelming amount of mail he was receiving from children.  Do sheep get mail?

Smokey also once hosted his own successful television program (something certain Cavemen couldn’t do), as well as being featured in all types of books, comics, and magazines.  Regardless, we here at the Peeling Back the Bark blog would like to honor Smokey Bear.  Enjoy the following clip, one of our favorite historic Smokey televison PSAs, which also features Vaughn Monroe and his family (Monroe being best known for recording the best selling version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” in 1949).