What does it mean for an entire culture when an iconic athlete is on the eve of his leave? Derek Jeter, member of the 3,000 hit club and one of the few baseball players to hit their 40s during their MLB career, will end his time in the league after his 20th season. As a five-time World Series champion, he is widely regarded as a major factor to Yankee victories.
Jordan, a brand within Nike, launched a very tasteful ad in the form of a tribute to Jeter. It begins with a shot of him at bat – presumably taking place at his last game – and then the pitcher, fans, rivals, celebrities, other athletes, and the entire city of New York all tip their hats to him. It’s a small but meaningful sign of respect, or “RE2PECT”, which includes Jeter’s jersey number.
This commercial reaches more than just Yankee fans. Although most of the shots take place in New York City scenery, it also shows long-time rivals Boston Red Sox fans paying their respect. Nike endorsers Tiger Woods, Michael Jordon and Carmelo Anthony are also featured, as well as pop culture icons Spike Lee and Jay-Z. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, legendary comedian Billy Crystal, and others also take part in the respectful gesture.
What this TV spot says to a person is “you might not respect the Yankees, and you might not respect baseball, but you respect Derek Jeter.” Why is that? Because Jeter has done more than play professional baseball for the last two decades. The Yankees’ #2 has created a personal brand based on more than his abilities: he has treated others with respect and, therefore, earned the same in return.
This sentiment serves a purpose for the Jordan brand too. Being famously associated with MJ, another sports icon, the subsidiary of Nike has a hard time getting its non-basketball products recognized. (I had no idea Jordan sold cleats, and I’m a huge Jordan sneakerhead.) But after seeing a closeup shot of Derek Jeter’s baseball boot on television, viewers might give Jordan the wider recognition that it wants.
Currently, Nike only sells Jordan basketball, running and football shoes, but after such a successful marketing campaign, I can guess that this is a prelude to a more diverse collection. “RE2PECT” is printed on sold-out hats and t-shirts, and related hashtags are amongst the most trending on Twitter and Facebook.
~ Jay Kim, Summer Associate, The S3 Agency