A day ahead of the start of its annual March Madness college basketball tournament, the NCAA launched a new public service announcement campaign focused on inclusivity and called ‘Label Me’.
The work, which was developed in harness with creative agency SS+K, debuted on the tournament’s ‘Selection Sunday’ on official broadcaster TBS selection show.
The campaign’s spearhead television spot aims to showcase how college sport brings student-athletes together from a wide variety of backgrounds: the idea is that college athletes, through their experiences, learn to work together to build the skills for future success.
The ‘Label Me’ PSA positions university sport as a ‘pathway to opportunity’ and it also reinforces the NCAA’s primary commitments to academics, well-being and fairness.
The hero spot’s creative approach revolves around challenging viewers to stereotype the student-athletes who appear in the creative.
The ad ends with a script-flip that reminds the audience that the only definition of ourselves that truly matters is our own.
The film, which was directed by portraitist Nadav Kander (of Chelsea Pictures), effectively uses colour and light to create a series of powerful student portraits.
College sports bring together student-athletes from different backgrounds. Through these experiences, college athletes learn to work together and build the skills for future success.
“[Sport] provides almost 500,000 college athletes every year the opportunities and experiences that help define who they are and who they will become, while playing the sports they love,” said Amy Dunham, managing director of Strategic Communications at the NCAA.
“These spots bring to life what makes the NCAA special in a human and compelling way.”
“Few people know that less than 2 percent of student-athletes go pro, so the vast majority work hard balancing the demands of getting a degree with playing a sport they love,” adds Rob Shepardson, co-founder of agency SS+K.
“’Label Me’ underscores that inclusion and diversity have long been a defining characteristic of college athletics. Student-athletes don’t have time for stereotypes. They are too busy on the field and in the classroom.”
This creative is both inviting and provocative (and very well-timed too).
‘Label Me’ follows in the footsteps of earlier, thought-provoking work by SS+K for the NCAA PSA.
One recent PSA, called ‘Opportunity’, sees the NCAA talk about its history of inclusivity long before it was a ‘trend’ .
Another, 2016 female empowerment campaign called ‘Done’ sees professional athletes Misty May Treanor, Natalie Coughlin Hall, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike make the point that women sports stars are powerful because they work hard and not because ads tell them to.
This spot asks the question ‘When will we feel it is no longer necessary to make ads telling women they can do anything?’
While a further SS+K NCAA PSA called ‘Two Percent’ sees former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice explain that while only 2% of NCAA athletes turn pro,they’ll all receive something even more valuable: a college education (see case study).
The new campaign rolls out alongside the first official 2018 tournament bracket,
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 11, 2018
plus a related travel puzzle,
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2018
and also a tournament revenue spot.