See the Spots: Dove Shifts 'Highlight Reel' to Life Off the Field

Online Videos on Football Stars Run in Front of Highlights on ESPN.com, Twitter

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Dove Men+Care is rolling out a new take on the football highlight reel with a digital video campaign showing NFL stars Carson Palmer and Jordy Nelson in their family moments rather than on the field.

The ads, which will run in pre-roll on ESPN highlight videos and Twitter Amplify, "take the traditional idea of a highlight reel capturing sports accomplishments and turn it on its head to focus more off the field," said Jennifer Bremner, marketing director for Unilever personal care. The "Real Strength" highlight reels aim to "take moment from men's lives to illustrate what their true strength is."

Dove is the fastest-growing brand in men's personal care, Ms. Bremner said, and she believes the brand's focus on positive portrayals of fatherhood in recent years, including a Super Bowl ad last year, has helped.

Mr. Palmer's Arizona Cardinals beat Mr. Nelson's Green Bay Packers in overtime Saturday, giving Dove a chance to tweet a preview of its campaign, which starts getting the paid support Jan. 19.

Mr. Palmer, a quarterback, and Mr. Nelson, a wide receiver, have some things in common aside from being on playoff teams. They've both had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries within the past 15 months -- Mr. Palmer after an injury that ended his 2014 season; Mr. Nelson after an injury that wiped out his 2015 season. And both come across as good guys off the field in Dove's video highlights, which were shot on location in November.

Mr. Nelson is shown working as a substitute teacher in Wisconsin and taking his son to work on the family farm during his recovery in scenes shot in November. Mr. Palmer is seen playing catch, watching movies and preparing care packages for the homeless with his kids -- and helping his son, who also had leg surgery around the same time he did, with rehab exercises.

The focus on off-field highlights fairly depicts his view of things, said Mr. Palmer, who in an interview described his family as largely oblivious to what he does on the field.

"They could care less what happens in the games," Mr. Palmer said. "We go to the games, but they're more interested in trying to catch the free T-shirts that get shot in the stands, or getting popcorn and lemonade." His family generally doesn't even watch the road games on TV, though they like to hear about what he did and the cities he visited, but not so much about the football.

"The football stuff doesn't stress them out at all," he said, including when he quit his job with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, ultimately forcing owner Mike Brown to trade him to the Oakland Raiders. He came to Arizona in 2013, and statistically had his best year ever this year at 36. He and the Bengals, have both been better since he left.

"I think everything happens for a reason," Mr. Palmer said. "I've had a great three years here. I've really enjoyed my time."

Davie Brown Entertainment created the videos, which both run more than 2 minutes, and the campaign also saw work from Edelman on PR, VaynerMedia on social media, and Mindshare on media planning and buying.