Smokey The Bear Sutra Essay, Research Paper
In 1950, a careless act turned into tragedy when a fire burned wild and swept away over 17,000 acres of forest watershed land in the Capitan Mountains, Lincoln National Forest. When the fire had died off, a badly burned cub was rescued from a charred tree. This cub, later named Smokey, was taken to the National Zoo where he lived out the rest of his life. Smokey was soon used to create an animated bear aimed at informing people of forest fires and fire prevention. The Smokey the Bear ad campaign was extremely effective and is still being used today as a way to inform the public of campfire do s and don ts.
Advertising is a $125 billion industry that attracts the attention of the public. Advertising is used as a tool of persuasion in television, magazines, radio, billboards, and in-store displays. The incredible amount of money, artistic ability, and intellectual energy spent on advertisements helps us understand the great power of the media and the advertiser s ability to control their viewers.
Advertising in today s society is largely based on brand name recognition. It doesn t matter how good the product being sold is, but rather how good the product s advertisements are. A consumer is more likely to purchase a more expensive item because it has a flashy advertisement than buy a cheaper product they have never heard of before.
The American public has a very short attention span, so only the most colorful, attractive advertisements will hold a person s attention long enough to see what the ad is selling. For instance, sex is used to sell just about everything. It is perhaps the only element that can be used by advertisers that the public will never get tired of seeing. A good example of this is alcohol advertisements. What does sex have to do with alcohol? Nothing, but it gives off the impression that when one drinks alcohol it will lead to sex. Of course, this is true to some extent, but the two do not go hand in hand. They are completely separate entities that cross paths more times than not, but alcohol advertisements give off the idea that when you purchase a case of beer, you are in store for a good night of sex. Ads like this are very misleading but it proves just how gullible the American public can be.
The alcohol company Budweiser uses three frogs to sell beer to the public. These frogs have no relevancy to alcohol whatsoever, but did prove to be very successful in raising sales. These frogs were used to make the consumer laugh, and that is why when these people go to the store they are more likely to buy Budweiser over any other beer. The Budweiser commercials make people laugh and feel good, and therefore give off the impression that their product will make people feel good.
Similarly, advertisers are trying to sell a new lifestyle, rather than a product. Alcohol and tobacco ads are often associated with being cool. One of the most famous characters of this method of advertising is Joe Camel. He gives off the impression that smoking Camel cigarettes will make you cool. The ads by alcohol and tobacco companies are aimed primarily at teenagers. The reason for this is that they need new, young drinkers and smokers to replace the dying ones. A long trend when selling to men or women is to have beautiful models in the ads of the opposite sex. Men like to be reassured of their masculinity and women of their femininity. This is why Marlboro s ads have masculine men with tattoos and scruffy beards. These images that advertisers portray to the public are an example of how advertisers are giving the people what they want, which is reassurance that men and women can be whomever they want to be. The only catch to this ideal life is that the advertiser s product is the only one that can provide it.
Young people are targeted most often because of their strive for acceptance and their need for self images, but parents are also exploited by advertisers through children. Children serve as eye-stoppers. An example of this would be the Michelin Tires ad because the connection was made between how the quality of your tires could affect your children s safety. Parents are extremely protective of their children, so if a tire company tells you that your children will only be safe with their tires on your car, parents won t want to take any risks and will buy the Michelin tires. Michelin is portraying an image of safety and security through children, which is a soft spot for almost all parents. Advertisers know how to sell a product to the American people, primarily because they know how to sell the American people to a product.
Everything on earth can be sold, and there will most likely always be someone there to buy it. Religion is something that is beginning to be sold and, of course, it is beginning to be bought. People are passing billboards and posters on the streets and freeways and reading the messages that are posted, most of these signed at the end by God. A decade ago it would have been inconceivable to sell the idea of God and even more ludicrous if people would have bought it. But advertisers have mastered how to control the consumers and now it is possible for anything to be sold.
Smokey the Bear is aimed at preventing forest fires, but Gray Snyder uses him to sell religion. He uses Smokey to get his views of the Buddhist religion across to the American public. Snyder translates everything associated with Smokey into a different meaning that ties to his religion. Gary Snyder is acting as the advertising company trying to sell a product, the Buddhist religion. Affiliation is being used to get his views and beliefs across so that the reader, or consumer, can easily understand them. Just like how people buy products because their ads were amusing and made them feel good, Smokey makes people feel good and safe, so Snyder uses this positive image to make his readers feel loved by and understand the Buddhist religion. This is a very tactful approach by Snyder especially because he knows, just like advertisers, that just about anything can be sold to just about anyone.
Smokey the Bear was a small cub rescued from a forest fire. People have soft spots that leave them vulnerable to the public. Whether it is comedy delivered through the Budweiser frogs, coolness portrayed by Joe Camel, security and safety provided by Michelin Tires, or a young cub rescued from a man-made forest fire, every person with a weak spot can be manipulated by advertising. No matter what your soft spot may be, there are plenty of ads out there waiting to turn your head and capture your attention.
Once again, advertising is used as a tool of persuasion delivered through the use of television, magazines, radio, billboards, and in-store displays. Many companies use images and ideas to sell their products that have absolutely no connection with the ads whatsoever. But advertising is extremely effective if done correctly, and can be used to sell just about anything, even religion. Just as Budweiser uses three frogs to sell beer, and Michelin uses babies to sell tires, Gary Snyder uses Smokey the Bear to sell the Buddhist religion.