Dove Men+Care believes harmful stereotypes are a barrier to equity and inclusion. Our goal is to change the way Black men are seen and treated in society, by showing that even the most high-profile sport stars of all time are subject to the same negative stereotypes, and how it impacts them.
Dove Men+Care’s mission is to inspire every man to experience the transformative effects of care on himself and others. In 2020, they recognized the acute need to dismantle barriers that prevent Black men from experiencing care.
Through research, we found the misrepresentation of Black men in media and culture contributes to negative stereotypes that fuel racial injustice. In the U.S. Black men are 150% more likely to be described as criminal, 60% more likely to be described as threatening, and 30% more likely to be described as intimidating compared to white men.
Those negative stereotypes extend to the wealthy and famous and are often amplified for professional basketball players in the US, 75% of which are Black men. And while Black NBA players are viewed as heroes and celebrated on the court, they are subject to the same harmful attitudes and perceptions off-court.
Black athletes in America have a history of using their voices and platforms to call for social progress. We witnessed a seminal moment in 2020 when sports figures across the country spoke out against injustice. Following the racial unrest that gripped the U.S. after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, and as the NBA season resumed during COVID, 300 players joined in solidarity with messages of social justice on their jerseys. Messages included Black Lives Matter, Equality, Love Us, Freedom, Peace, Say Her Name, and more.
We also knew through our research 76% of Americans say they are more likely to support or purchase from brands that take action on racial justice issues.
Inspired by actions taken by the players in support of racial and social justice, Dove Men+Care and National Basketball Players Association announced a landmark partnership, Commit to C.A.R.E. (Care About Racial Equity) Now, to help create a society where Black men and boys are cared for, respected, supported, and celebrated.
The initiative is aimed at amplifying the voices of some of the most recognizable and revered Black athletes today. Partnering on issues like public safety, access to safe and fair voting, community engagement, accurate portrayals in media, and much more, Commit to C.A.R.E. Now not only showcases and honors the humanity of Black men but also addresses the harm caused by the misrepresentation of Black men in society.
To start, we focused on elevating public conversation by influencing mass audiences to reach maximum impact. We partnered with 10 NBA players to produce deep-dive videos which told their personal stories: how injustices like the murder of George Floyd impacted their families, what growing up as a Black man meant for them, and how they give back to their communities and future generations.
By sharing their stories and highlighting the impact of harmful stereotypes against even the most celebrated athletes of our time, this work aimed to inspire awareness, understanding, and action.
Dove and NBPA hosted voter registration drives, advocated for legislation like the George Floyd Justice Policing Act, hosted virtual camps to teach young Black students the art of storytelling and website design, and hosted a Black Men’s Summit with celebrities and community leaders to to challenge myths about Black men.
The videos, stories, and calls to action were hosted on a dedicated microsite, www.committocarenow.com and content was distributed through paid media.
We drove people to take the Commit to C.A.R.E pledge, to join the fight to end racism. People committed to educating themselves, challenging racism, and advocating for legislative change.
The initiative was amplified through a 360° media plan that reached the broad 25-49 adult audience through TV, social, display, audio (terrestrial and streaming), and print (magazine and newspaper).
The player’s stories debuted within highly anticipated and culturally relevant tentpole sporting programs such as the NBA Finals and Monday Night Football (one of the highest-rated TV shows among men, on ESPN). To further extend our reach within the sports vertical, the player’s voices were magnified across post-game highlights, and top radio stations, and podcasts.
But we knew we had to go beyond sports media outlets. We partnered with Black media properties with our ad dollars, and dedicated inventory to connect directly with the Black community, to demonstrate Dove Men+Care’s commitment to changing the way Black men are seen and treated in our society. These placements came to life within relevant environments such as Peacock, OWN, iOneDigital, Essence, Complex, and The Shade Room.
Through print and digital media, we targeted local markets where #BlackLivesMatter protests were amplified. Our placement in the Cincinnati Enquirer reached the highest circulation of any print publication in the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Our message also came to life within Social Justice in America, a dedicated magazine from The King Center, that tackled racial inequalities and injustices and has a print and digital distribution of approximately 10 million.
We also partnered with a number of podcasts and radio stations, including iHeart’s “Why I Vote” series as the presidential election neared.
Dove Men+Care’s Commit to C.A.R.E. Now initiative proved that we can shift perceptions and change the world for a better future.
The initiative drove significant increases in brand health, including the association of Dove Men+Care changing the way the world sees and treats Black men (+26%), advocating for racial equity (+24%), and celebrating Black men (+28%).
This in turn increased brand awareness (+4%), perception (+13), and consideration (+12%).
While the primary goal was a shift in perception, we also were able to generate action with thousands of pledge and petition signatures and over 100 million media impressions.
As NBA star Jaylen Brown puts it: “You can’t be a fan of me if you are racist…you’re no fan of Jaylen Brown if you don’t think Black people deserve to be treated fairly.”
That’s exactly why Commit To C.A.R.E. Now exists – to create a world where Black people are treated fairly.