- Unilever's Dove Men+Care partnered with menswear designer Don C. on a line of limited-edition jerseys that celebrate college basketball rivalries for the March Madness NCAA college basketball tournament, according to a press release.
- The first jersey will pay homage to the Tobacco Road rivalry of North Carolina college basketball. Two other jerseys will roll out during March, and each vintage-inspired item blends elements of the featured teams' heritage and culture. The jerseys will be "dropped in surprise locations" and available exclusively to rival fans and former opponents in the rivalries' markets. Consumers can follow the conversation on the Dove Men+Care website or by searching the hashtag #ReptheRivalry on social media.
- Dove Men+Care partnered with past basketball rivals, including former Duke University player Jay Williams and the University of North Carolina's Antawn Jamison, to inspire fans to #ReptheRivalry. The former players will wear the jerseys as part of the campaign.
Most sports fans love a good rivalry, but Dove Men+Care is taking an unusual approach for March Madness by trying to bring opposing fans together. The effort was inspired by internal research showing that 98% of men think that positive experiences and cultures enhance sports overall. Marketers in other categories, including Southwest Airlines, have recently debuted campaigns that call for unity and civility, possibly in a nod to the current climate of deep political and societal divisiveness in the U.S.
Portrayals of healthy, positive masculinity have been ongoing themes in Dove Men+Care's marketing. Dove released a short film last year for Father's Day, "Dear Future Dads," featuring a diverse group of dads sharing advice and stories about taking time for their children. The effort focused on raising awareness about paid paternity leave.
The partnership with Don C. on the limited-edition jerseys makes Dove Men+Care the latest brand to unveil unique merchandise as a means of stoking consumer interest and conversations online. The exclusive, targeted drop events will likely excite sports fans and give them a chance to engage with the brand in a memorable way and around the closely-watched NCAA college basketball tournament.
While Dove Men+Care is giving away the jerseys to fans, other brands have used limited-run swag to drive website traffic and gather consumer information as they flex their e-commerce muscles. Pepsi, for example, created a soccer-themed capsule collection in partnership with several international designers for a push timed around the World Cup last summer. The items were available via a special Pepsi co-branded site.