Orthodontists pair sports with mouth guards in appeal to kids

ST. LOUIS: The American Association of Orthodontists is preparing for its largest campaign to date with help from former NFL great Emmitt Smith.

ST. LOUIS: The American Association of Orthodontists is preparing for its largest campaign to date with help from former NFL great Emmitt Smith.

“Tackling Kids' Sports Safety with Emmitt Smith” campaign aims to encourage more kids to use facial protection—such as mouth guards—in helping reduce injuries caused when playing sports.

“This campaign is part of a larger integrated marketing effort to educate parents about the specialized education that AAO members receive,” said Linda Gladden, director of marketing and communications, AAO. “An audit that we performed in October 2008 on behalf of our members found that once moms know orthodontists receive an additional 2-3 years of training, 73% of them are more likely to choose an orthodontist to take their child for orthodontic treatment.”

Marc Abel, EVP for AAO's PR AOR Weber Shandwick, said Smith was a natural choice to deliver that message. “One of his kids is undergoing orthodontic treatments, and he has always been an advocate for sports safety and a good role model,” Abel told PRWeek. “He also has that crossover appeal thanks to [winning] Dancing with the Stars, so he certainly reaches the mom target we're interested in.”

In fact, the partnership with Smith is a family affair. His wife, Pat, will be a spokeswoman for an upcoming AAO campaign, called “Moms for Mouth Guards.” The initiative will launch in April and coincide with National Facial Protection Month.

Smith kicks off his part of the campaign on February 2, when he will visit with kids at a middle school in Miami and discuss the importance of facial protection. He will also be featured in a microsite at the AAO Web site, www.braces.org, where kids can download a sport-safety themed poster featuring Smith. The site, which is also aimed at parents, includes an “orthodontist locator”.

The campaign will also be promoted through Twitter and the AAO Facebook page, with the objective of growing the number of followers and fans. “More and more moms are chatting with each other through social media so we want to be part of those conversations,” Gladden said.

A partnership with the National Alliance of Youth Sports, a nonprofit organization that promotes safe sports and activities for children in about 3,000 communities across the country, will also help extend the reach of the awareness effort. “They work with coaches, officials and youth sports administrators so this is a way for us to promote the message beyond moms,” said Abel.

WS is also reaching out to traditional and social media outlets.

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