- Dove has partnered with Nike to launch a collaborative program addressing the high dropout rate of teenage girls from sports, according to a press release.
- Working together for the first time, the brands are standing up a Body Confident Sport initiative aimed at the 11 to 17 age set. The program, developed over two years, includes guides in multiple languages intended to help coaches build confidence in their students.
- Dove and Nike are making resources around Body Confident Sport freely available through a website and plan to reach 1 million young people globally through the work. Dove is also enlisting the help of ambassador Venus Williams to generate awareness.
Dove and Nike are uniting to combat a worrying trend that affects both of their brands. The sportswear marketer is aligning Body Confident Sport with a broader platform focused on increasing girls’ participation in sports worldwide and bringing better representation to the coaching arena. For Unilever-owned Dove, the initiative supports long-standing work related to body confidence through its Self-Esteem Project, which also tackles issues like social media’s impact on the mental health of teens.
The latest partnership, Dove’s first with the apparel brand, responds to data that shows nearly half (45%) of teenage girls at the global level are quitting sports, with the leading cause being body dissatisfaction. That dropout rate is twice that of boys in a comparable age range, and the companies noted that aspects of puberty specific to women, such as getting a first period, can collide with the existing pressures of sports.
Bullying is another factor underpinning the trend. Among young girls in the U.S. who stepped away from sports, 56% said they were mocked due to their body size and 48% were told they didn’t have the right body type to succeed, according to the brands’ research.
Meanwhile, many girls view coaches as a point of inspiration. Seventy-six percent of young women surveyed in the U.S. stated they would stick with sports longer if they had a coach they could identify with, while 61% were interested in learning from coaches about body confidence education.
Body Confident Sport looks to equip coaches with the right tools to meet those needs. The program, available via an online resource, was designed with experts from groups including the Centre for Appearance Research and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, along with input from 5,000 teens from France, India, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Clinical trials with 1,200 participants delivered scientifically proven results, the companies said.
The news shows that purpose-driven marketing remains an important mandate for marketers seeking to prove their businesses can result in societal good. Always, a feminine care brand owned by Unilever rival Procter & Gamble, in 2021 launched a similar #KeepHerPlaying effort with Walmart that raises money for the Women’s Sports Foundation.