Published 4/1/2008
Peter Pollack

New PSAs tout orthopaedic benefits

Television, radio, print announcements deliver inspiration, advice

The 2008 AAOS public service announcements (PSAs), which were unveiled during the Opening Ceremony at the 2008 AAOS Annual Meeting, address a range of orthopaedic initiatives including safety, Academy achievements, and physical activity.

“There’s no shortage of health information out there,” says Nicholas A. DiNubile, MD, chair of the Public Relations Oversight Group, “but I’m not sure we’re any healthier as a nation as a result. The question we have to ask is, ‘How do you reach people with a message in a way that will stick and really make a difference?’ In today’s news media, you get people’s attention for very brief periods of time, so you really have to capture their attention to make an impact. The Grim Reaper, I think, does just that.”

“Grim” TV spots
The television campaign adds a new twist to the tale of the Grim Reaper to promote healthy, active lifestyle choices. The 15-, 30-, and 60-second spots open with thunder, scary music, and a Grim Reaper scouring the streets. As the reaper knocks on doors or shows up in offices, he is constantly rebuffed with responses like, “Hi! You’re looking for Frank? You just missed him. He’s out running.”

With each unsuccessful encounter, an announcer explains that an exercise program not only increases bone health and quality of life, but life itself.

The 60-second spot takes the message one step further, closing with a little girl and the reaper sitting at a chess board. “You know, a little calcium wouldn’t kill you,” she says, sliding him a glass of milk as she places him in check.

Be physical, but safe
The radio ads, a joint effort of the AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, are targeted to parents with active children. They encourage the use of proper safety gear, explaining that as more kids take part in extreme sports such as skateboarding, mountain biking, and freestyle motocross, they’re also showing up in the trauma center in record numbers.

“If I find out you’ve been trying 900s in the half-pipe without your armor, I’m taking away your cell phone,” a mother says in one radio spot.

“Promoting safe play is one of the Academy’s main initiatives,” explains Frank B. Kelly, MD. “We’ve had several PSAs over the years promoting the importance of playing safe, using the proper equipment, and having the proper supervision. We want people to participate in physical activities, but we want them to do so safely, particularly the children.”

Moving stories
The print campaign—which includes postcards and posters as well as materials for newspapers and magazines—highlights the moving stories of four patients who have benefited from a variety of orthopaedic techniques. In each case, the patients were able to overcome their musculoskeletal conditions to live full, rewarding lives: a nurse who grew up with scoliosis; a motorcyclist who sustained open fractures; a researcher who survived polio to become a principal investigator in applying gene therapy for HIV/AIDS; and, perhaps most poignantly, a physician from Sierra Leone—one of only 200 doctors in the entire country—who was the recipient of donated hip and knee arthroplasties and has been able to return to her practice in the tiny West African nation.

“I would urge all Academy members to go to our Web site and download these PSAs,” says Dr. DiNubile. “They’re a great resource for bringing presentations to life, so if you’re out there in your community giving a talk, take advantage of them.”

Peter Pollack is a staff writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at ppollack@aaos.org