Concussion Legacy Foundation and Fingerpaint

Tackle Can Wait

While the public has been growing increasingly educated about the dangers of concussions for athletes, they’re less aware of how early trauma can begin. Even one hit can cause damage, and repetitive blows can lead to the debilitating, deadly brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

The campaign draws on the brilliant insight that the connection between a person hitting his head and developing CTE is even stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer. The PSA hinges on parents and coaches encouraging a group of pre-adolescent football players to light up cigarettes in the huddle.

“This is the best old-fashioned high-impact PSA that we never saw back in the 1980s,” says one of our judges. “It has great stopping power,” says another. “It’s edgy and proactive without going too far.”

Targeting parents and coaches, it focuses on the message that kids should not play tackle football before the age of 14, rather than not playing football at all. And it knew it needed something dramatic to get attention and begin to change people’s beliefs. 

The effort found innovative ways to go beyond the video, distributing an informational “cigarette pack” that unfolded to facts about CTE at legislative hearings.

The campaign sparked a tsunami of earned media, picked up by every major news network. Media coverage included the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today, as well as ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

Several state legislatures are currently debating proposals that would regulate tackle football before the age of 14, and California even named its bill after the campaign.