This weekend, the baseball world said goodbye to a player that will one day surely be elevated to legend status like his predecessors, Lou Gehrig and The Babe. Derek Jeter announced his plans for retirement at the beginning of this season and advertisers have been capitalizing on it ever since. Jeter’s biggest sponsors, Nike and Gatorade have ran brilliant marketing campaigns all summer that center around Jeter’s retirement and also manage to masterfully promote their brand as well.
After their “Re2pect” ad debuted in July which now has over 8 million views and an overwhelming number of positive reactions, Nike trademarked the phrase for use in connection with headwear, hats, caps, shirts and t-shirts. The trademarking paid off. In less than 24 hours after Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium last week the hashtag “#Re2pect” was trending on Facebook and Twitter. The jitter to purchase Jeter items on Nike’s website led to “RE2PECT” hats being sold out within minutes after Jeter won the game for the New York Yankees in walk-off fashion. This RE2PECT campaign is important for not only Jeter but is probably even more important for Nike who also sponsors Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Peterson remains with Nike, but the business relationship has been suspended while allegations of child abuse are further investigated. Nike completely terminated its relationship with Rice. Instead of Rice, people are now talking about Jeter and RE2PECT.
The best tributes to The Captain this season have captured the style, grace and connection to the city for which Jeter is known. Last week Gatorade hit the nail on the head when they released a sentimental black and white ad paying tribute to Jeter. Since the campaign’s launch last Thursday, the ad has gone viral and been viewed more than five million times. While this ad is not meant to drive sales in the way the Nike RE2PECT campaign is, it gave baseball fans everywhere goose bumps and was a fitting end for one of the best players of all time.
As a Twins fan I grew up hating Derek Jeter and the Yankees. It wasn’t until much more recently that I realized he is not only one of the best players of all time but one of the classiest as well. Unlike many of the steroid users on the Yankees roster, Jeter has never gotten mixed up in that mess and that is something I greatly respect. He’s been a consistent, dominating player for the last 20 years. Farewell Captain, you will be missed.