NCAA Launches Latest Brand PSA Focused on Inclusion

Creative from SS+K debuts on Selection Sunday

SS+K produced new PSAs for today's NCAA tournament Selection Sunday. - Credit by NCAA
Headshot of James Cooper

On the eve of the annual March Madness college basketball tournament, the NCAA and its agency SS+K have launched their latest brand PSA campaign.

Titled Label Me, the work premieres today on the tournament’s Selection Sunday, with the selection show airing at 6 p.m. ET on TBS. The spots showcase how college sports brings student-athletes together from different backgrounds and that through their experiences, college athletes learn to work together to build the skills for future success.

The PSAs also focus on the theme of college sports as a pathway to opportunity while reinforcing the NCAA’s commitment to academics, well-being and fairness.

Athletics “provide 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.”

Creatively the PSAs challenge the viewer to stereotype the student-athletes in front of them. But before the spot ends, the script flips to remind the audience that the only definition of ourselves that matters is our own. Directed by portraitist Nadav Kander of Chelsea Pictures, the creative is inviting and provocative—using color and light to create powerful portraits.

“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,” said Rob Shepardson, co-founder of SS+K, adding, “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.”

The Label Me spots follow earlier NCAA PSA work by SS+K called “Done” and “Opportunity.”

Join the foremost brand marketers, such as Marc Pritchard, Brad Hiranaga, Kory Marchisotto and more, for Brandweek Masters Live on Sept. 14-17. Secure your pass and learn from the brand masters.

@jcoopernyc James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.