It’s barely begun and it’s already crazy: March Madness is upon us, and the leaked bracket already has fans in a happy mood.
But Dove Men+Care is skipping the boyish banter and going right for the heart. Unilever, which owns the brand and is one of the many sponsors of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, is running a tearjerker, featuring the famous 1995 hug between UConn Coach Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie, just after the team lost its bid to enter the Final Four. (Ollie has famously gone on to coach UConn himself, and the team is in the running this year.)The spot, created by Davie Brown, is the latest in its #RealStrength campaign.
Unilever says the ongoing effort is based on research that two-thirds of men bond with their buds over sports, and that it wanted to show how their relationship between the two men has evolved into a lifelong friendship, including some on-camera “I love yous.” “It exemplifies the importance of deep friendships to all men,” the company says in its release.
And as the tournament goes on, it says it will share additional stories from other coaches in the NCAA, including Tubby Smith, Ron Hunter, Thad Matta, Johnny Dawkins, and Bryce Drew.
But basketball fans will get plenty of the expected manly marketing yucks. Capital One, one of three co-presenting sponsors, has already released a series of ads featuring Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee on the road again, sometimes even singing The Pina Colada Song or brainstorming a fresh nickname for Sir Charles.
AT&T, also a co-presenting sponsor, has released a spot playing for laughs. Allstate, also a sponsor, has a new Mayhem commercial running, as well as some deliciously sarcastic e-cards you can send friends as their brackets collapse.
And Lowe’s, which in previous years has celebrated its sponsorship with collapsing brackets and glow-in-the-dark cat hats, is going for more sedate chuckles with talking lawn ornaments.
Other sponsors include Nabisco, Amazon Echo, Infiniti, Reese’s and UPS.