Just in time for back-to-school and the varsity pre-season, Dick’s Sporting Goods is launching a series of new ads — but they don’t feature hockey sticks or sneakers. Instead, the chain’s campaign is focusing on preventing and treating concussions, particularly among student athletes.
The ads are airing in tandem with the company’s new program, Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education, or PACE, through which Dick’s will fund neurocognitive testing in over a million students at 3,300 schools. The retailer is also pledging an additional $1 to PACE for every pair of shoes they sell, for each Foursquare or Facebook Places check-in they receive, and for each Facebook fan who “shares” information on PACE, or uses the Twitter hashtag #DSGPACE.
The company deserves props for both their multi-pronged use of social media to benefit PACE and the novel approach of turning ads into public service announcements (featuring athletes like former Steeler Jerome Bettis and Ali Krieger, of the U.S. women’s soccer team). Added to a list of a multitude of philanthropic endeavors from the retail world, Dick’s new initiative has all the earmarks of being completely in earnest and socially savvy — so starting this fall you can expect fewer unchecked concussions coming from your younger cousin’s/sibling’s/niece’s hockey, or football, or gymnastics teams.