Late-teens-ish worker at fish and chips shack: Great shirt!Environmentalists have done a lousy job maintaining or replacing childhood icons. Past generations have had Woodsy, Smokey Bear, Ranger Rick, The Lorax, and Captain Planet, but I couldn't name one who's come along in the last 20 years. Of that list, who would today's kids be able to identify?
Him: I love South Park.
Him: That episode where the guy in the owl costume molests kids was hilarious!
Me: Oh, I didn’t see that one. Woodsy Owl was a public service campaign back in the ‘70s and ‘80s who told kids not to litter.
Him: Really? Wow, I had no idea it was a real thing!
Me: (dies of old age)
Part of it is the era - in this age of multimedia ad saturation, campaigns are now run and replaced rather than maintained long enough to reach iconic status.
For government agencies, part of it is budgetary - the U.S. Forest Service, which produced Woodsy Owl, now spends most of its money on fighting fires thanks to Congressional budget-cutting and worsening global warming.
And for nonprofits, there's the challenge of generationally split audiences. Design a new campaign for today's children and older donors may not be willing to support something unfamiliar. Design a campaign based on an older icon and you may please older donors but fail to connect with today's kids.