Degree looks to close gender ‘bracket gap’ during March Madness

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Degree is launching the “Bracket Gap Challenge” to raise awareness around this year’s NCAA Women’s tournament, according to a press release
  • The Unilever antiperspirant brand has teamed with WNBA star and two-time NCAA champion Candace Parker to help encourage fans to fill out a women’s bracket via One randomly selected entrant will receive $25,000 for themselves and a $75,000 donation in their name will be given to a women’s athletic program of their choice.
  • The campaign is informed by research commissioned by the brand that found only 12% of people filled out an NCAA Women’s tournament bracket last year. The push, which also includes an online video starring Parker, is part of Degree’s larger purpose-driven Breaking Limits program.

Dive Insight:

Degree’s “Bracket Gap Challenge” is a purpose-driven effort that seeks to increase gender equity in college basketball by drawing attention to the women’s tournament to help drive its promotion, attendance and funding. While attention to March Madness is usually focused on the men’s tournament, the women’s tournament is also part of the festivities — despite the low number of fans who fill out women’s brackets. This “bracket gap” is another gender division that exists in several facets of sports, like the pay gap that has been a focus of several efforts by P&G’s Secret, a Degree competitor.

By launching the website, which will accept entries beginning on March 13 at 10:30 p.m. and continuing until the start of the first game on March 18, Degree can collect valuable first-party consumer data as it offers fans a chance to win cash for themselves and for women’s athletics programs. To promote the effort, Degree has called upon one of the biggest name’s in women’s basketball, Candace Parker, to star in an online video that looks to change the parlance around picking tournament winners from “bracket” to “brackets.”

“As a longtime advocate of equitable investment, I’ve seen that opportunity is a key driver to equality – and there is no opportunity without visibility,” Parker said in the press release.

The effort is part of Degree’s larger Breaking Limits program, which seeks to support those who face barriers to being active, whether due to race, sexual orientation, ability level, gender or age. Degree committed more than $5 million over the next five years to the program, which it launched last summer. As part of the program, the brand in September called out the fitness industry for its lack of support for people with disabilities. 

The purpose-driven effort comes as parent company Unilever, an official corporate partner of March Madness, has faced investor criticism over claims that it has prioritized progressive marketing messages over business fundamentals. However, this latest iteration of the Breaking Limits program seems to closely align business outcomes with brand identity by making a push to tie-up the antiperspirant brand with one of the year’s most popular sporting events.

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