Over the new year, Smokey Bear kicked off his 75th birthday at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. The more than 1 million fans that cheered his name throughout the 5-mile parade route was a powerful reminder about the importance of in-person connections between your brand and your fans.
Major brands and publishers are making IRL activities and events a major priority – look at Refinery 29’s 29 Rooms, SoulPancake’s SoulPancake Live, Google’s Hardware Store, Converse’s One Star Hotel. Social impact projects and nonprofits should be following suit, especially since we have the benefit of working on projects that people already feel passionate about.
For a little New Year’s inspiration about how exciting it can be to get your brand out with the fans, I wanted to share some photos from Smokey Bear’s exciting time at the Rose Parade.
The weekend started at EquestFest, which is where all the equestrian entries in the Rose Parade present their entries as a show at the LA Equestrian Center. Smokey Bear led his backwoods pack mules!
The next few days were spent decorating the wagon with seeds, flowers and leaves from the forest – all entries in the Rose Parade must be made from natural materials. The Ad Council logo, for example, is made from rice and poppy seeds!
At 4 a.m. on January 1, Ad Council’s VP of Campaign Development Amy Gibson-Grant joined (from right to left in the photo below) the chief of the US Forest Service, the president of the National Association of State Foresters, the regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region and, of course, Smokey Bear to hop on the wagon and begin the 5-mile parade route.
In all our talks about meeting people where they are, let’s start to take this advice literally!