2015 is primed and ready to be a great year for Minnesota Sports…. Or at least two teams. In addition to signing a new manager/coaching staff the Twins re-acquired Torii Hunter. Last week the Timberwolves traded so they could bring back Kevin Garnett. Garnett comes back to the Wolves to lend his experience to young players on a team trying to learn how to win. Hunter comes back to the Twins with exactly the same mission. Garnett is 38. Hunter is 39. Both are multi-time All-Stars. Both were among the best defensive players in their respective leagues. Garnett is a former league MVP, while Hunter received MVP votes in four separate seasons.
Most importantly, both were fan favorites when they were in Minnesota and their teams are hoping they can bring some much needed excitement and success back to the Twin Cities sports scene. I’m not a Timberwolves fan but as a Twins fan I can tell you that they desperately need some fan support right now and to create some excitement. Having not made the playoffs since 2010 and finishing with a below .500 average since then as well they [hopefully] finally hit rock bottom and made some major changes this off season in hiring a new manager and bringing in some new impact players. This is a perfect opportunity for the Twins and Timberwolves to capitalize on the fan excitement on getting these two players back and run a joint advertising campaign. I think something even as simple as putting up a few billboards up around the cities with the two guys shaking hands or something could do wonders for fan sentiment on both teams. I addition to that a humorous commercial would be best to showcase the personalities of these guys and remind the fans of what they’re like. Torii has made some great commercials for the Twins in the past and I have no doubt he’d be up for doing it again.
All in all while I’m not a huge fan on the new Twins manager I’m hopefully that Torii can get the clubhouse going and light a fire under the Twins this year as KG will be trying to do with the Wolves.
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.