Watching children smoke in this ad is very confronting. The idea behind the PSA, created by health and wellness marketing agency, Fingerpaint, for The Concussion Legacy Foundation is to make parents put smoking and tackle football on the same level for danger.
In the 30-second spot, children in football uniforms are shown smoking and one mum hands a cigarette to her child, helping him to light up. The Concussion Legacy Foundation is using the film to warn against the dangers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which can be caused by head injuries like concussions that are common in football. It aims to drive home the message that youth tackle football is incredibly dangerous to the developing brain and the damage it causes is preventable. The spot urges parents to keep their kids from engaging in tackle football until they turn 14.
“The goal of the campaign was to shock the audience into hearing a message they might not want to hear. Parents and coaches are allowing kids to take irreversible risks with their brains and need to wait until age 14 to allow kids to play tackle football,” stated Ed Mitzen, founder of Fingerpaint. “We look forward to educating and, most likely, challenging the current thinking of mums and dads all over the country as they start to digest what this new data, and our campaign, mean for them, their families, and their communities. The campaign is sure to create conversation, and we are ready for it. You can still be a successful football player and play flag football in youth.”
The PSA is supported by a behind-the-scenes video that discusses the danger of repetitive head knocks, another film by former San Francisco Giants player, Chris Borland, an advocate for the Foundation, who plays the referee in the PSA and the website, Tackle Can Wait.
The pro bono campaign, Tackle Can Wait, was an initiative led by Rebecca Carpenter and Fingerpaint employee, Angela Harrison, two daughters who both lost their fathers to CTE, and Chris Borland.
At its foundation are the findings of a study published in the Annals of Neurology medical journal, conducted at Boston University in collaboration with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which concluded that the risk and severity of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) increases with the number of years playing tackle football. The study revealed that a child who starts tackle football at age 5, instead of age 14, has an incredible ten times the risk of developing the brain disease CTE. Fingerpaint’s creative work is partly inspired by data in the study showing the link between tackle football and CTE may be stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer.
The agency collaborated across five of its nationwide offices through production, media planning, creative, and development teams to bring the campaign to life.