Heritage of hard work
Many of Jeter’s Jordan ads came in the form of interviews, in which he’d describe his work ethic and dedication to his craft. It shows why Jeter fits in perfectly with Team Jordan: As skilled as MJ was, it was his tireless training regimen that set him apart.
Much as we’ve seen Jordan attempt to play baseball, the centerpiece of this particular video is Jeter putting up some jump shots, which actually look pretty credible. He revealed that he used to play basketball in high school to condition himself for his main sport. “Basketball is a little too much running for me though,” he adds with a laugh. “In baseball, you run 90 feet, take a break…”
Given that his sneakers are marketed as being tough enough to hold up to Jeter’s strenuous workouts, it’s no surprise that’s a big theme of these longform marketing videos, that the work you put in when nobody is watching manifests itself when everyone is watching.
“When my career is said and done, I don’t want to look back and say, ‘Well, I wish I would have worked harder,’” Jeter said as the Jumpman logo fades into focus. “Don’t let anyone tell you that your goals are too high and unreachable, because if you work hard … you know, you can attain them.” Just take it from a future Hall of Famer.
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This ad crystallized Jeter’s appeal: Love or hate the team he plays for, between his baseball talents, his hard work, his championships or even his tendency to fraternize with amazingly beautiful women, he has most likely earned your respect.
The lineup of A-list names that tip their caps to the Yankees Captain in this ad is staggering: Rudy Giuliani, Jay Z, Tiger Woods, Spike Lee and wait a minute, was that Action Bronson? Before delivering to the plate, Jon Lester subtly tips his Red Sox cap, about two weeks before he would trade it in for an A’s model. In a soul-searching moment, two Boston fans begrudgingly salute Jeter, as do some Mets personnel, their faces blurred to protect their identities. (One of them looked suspiciously like Mr. Met.)
At the ad’s climax, Jeter glances up at none other than Michael Jordan, who poignantly tips his cap from a skybox. After just the slightest pause, Jeter expressionlessly turns back toward Lester. And if anything captures Jeter’s essence, it’s that for him, the pageantry can wait. He has a pitch to hit.
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When the Jordan Brand released its RE2PECT commercial the morning before this year’s MLB All-Star Game, it went viral in a mainstream manner that sneaker commercials rarely achieve. For one, the ad itself was tremendously well done. But the subject was probably the main reason; even for those who never actually watch baseball, Derek Jeter is one of the most recognizable and revered athletes in America.
That said, as a charter member of Team Jordan, Jeter has appeared in stellar advertising campaigns for years now — most in an ensemble cast, and none with the fanfare of RE2PECT. That can partially be explained by one of Jeter’s most significant characteristics: He’s been so good for so long, we’ve become conditioned to his steady excellence. Likewise, it doesn’t make much of a ripple when we see Jeter in a commercial, since he’s long been the most popular, marketable, and ubiquitous player in the game. (RIP to George Steinbrenner.)
When a player’s career is winding down, of course, everyone tends to look at them in a new light. People have always appreciated Jeter, whose everyday excellence is accented by his flair for the extraordinary; his 3,000th hit and the Mr. November home run promptly come to mind. But with not a whole lot of sand left in the hourglass of his final season, we tend to pay closer attention since soon, we’ll no longer have that option. RE2PECT resonated for the same reason we focus that much more on even Jeter’s most mundane at-bats, knowing their number is increasingly finite.
As we’ve discussed here at Champs Sports, Jeter’s importance to the Jordan Brand can’t be understated, and he’s been rewarded with a dozen signature sneakers over the years. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: Jordan earns cache in a whole new ballpark via its association with Jeter, who gets the cool factor of representing not just one, but two of the most enduring brands in sports. Everybody wins, including fans of versatile cross-trainers and inspired marketing campaigns.
As we looking forward to this weekend’s Champs exclusive — a sick New Era Limited Edition Jeter Hat Box — here are our favorite Jeter appearances in Jordan commercials throughout the years.
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle