The Best Derek Jeter Jordan Brand Commercials

  • Overjoyed

    Hand-picked by Michael Jordan to be the first baseball player on Team Jordan, it’s fitting that Jeter is the first person you see in this 1999 ad, which introduced the new athletes who would help advance his eponymous brand.

    Soundtracked by Mary J. Blige covering a Stevie Wonder classic, the ad shows the initial members of Team Jordan grimly focused on various preparatory scenarios — Jeter surrounded by reporters, Randy Moss signing autographs in the hotel lobby, Roy Jones Jr. approaching the ring for a fight. As the song crescendos, Jeter and Co. are shown in action, their moods uplifted by the spirit of competition. The commercial ends with Jordan emerging from a meadow wearing a suit, connoting his eventual move from player to mentor.

    “As (Jordan) transitions from athlete to businessman and mentor, the ad conveys his current emotion of being overjoyed with all that he has accomplished during his career,” Jordan Brand president Larry Miller said at the time. “And he can now watch that legacy get fulfilled by the athletes in his brand who personify those very same values.”

    Unveiled at a gala world premiere event in Beverly Hills before officially debuting during the Thanksgiving NFL games, “Overjoyed” was a source of intrigue — what athletes could fit the bill of representing the greatest basketball player ever? As it turned out, Jeter was in fine company; Moss and Jones were regarded as the best at their profession, while Ray Allen and Eddie Jones were both NBA All-Stars.

    For his part, Jeter had just hit .349 for the Yankees, who had won their second of three consecutive World Series championships. While he was rapidly making a name for himself, his Jordan debut only added to his burgeoning resume and reputation.

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  • Designated hitter

    When Michael Jordan finally left basketball for good in 2003, Wieden + Kennedy released three ads starring Jeter, Warren Sapp, and Carmelo Anthony. The commercials served to demonstrate why each athlete was not Jordan, while demonstrating what they in turn brought to the table.

    Jeter’s ad called back to Jordan’s surreal season playing Minor League Baseball; as MJ morphs into DJ in the batting cage, Jeter muses, “I do not have a career batting average of .202.” (Jordan, of course, did.) As the tag-team Jordan-Jeter voiceover details all the pitches the latter can hit that the former cannot, it big-ups the Yankees superstar as someone able to accomplish something athletically that even the great Jordan was unable to succeed at.

    Short and sweet, the ad demonstrates Jeter’s importance, as he would help take the baton from the retiring megastar and burnish the Jordan Brand’s reputation in an entire major sport. “I am not Michael Jordan,” Jeter said at the conclusion — with a wry smile. “I’m his designated hitter.”

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  • Look Me In The Eyes

    An ensemble piece from the “Become Legendary” campaign to advertise the Air Jordan XX3, Jeter appeared in a slideshow with fellow Team members such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Paralympic athlete April Holmes. The athletes took turns staring intently into the camera, while Jordan’s eternally recognizable voice backdropped the proceedings.

    Most notable for our purposes is that amid a procession of some of the most dominant and feared athletes in the world — not the least of which, super middleweight boxing champion Andre Ward — Jeter’s withering stare seems to trump everyone else’s in terms of intensity. Jordan’s narration at that moment was fitting: “Look me in the eyes. I have something more than courage.”

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  • It’s Not About The Shoes

    Similar to the previous “Become Legendary” spot, this one depicts the origins of a host of Jordan athletes while MJ repeatedly points out, “It’s not about the shoes … it’s about what you do in them.” Jeter’s segment shows footage of him brandishing that familiar swing for the Maroon Giants of Kalamazoo Central High School — but making an out. “It’s about having the courage to fail,” MJ muses in a voiceover.

    Also of particular interest: footage of Chris Paul’s famous 61-point high school game to honor his slain grandfather, and a rare glimpse of a pre-pubescent Michael Jordan wearing No. 12.

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  • Jumpman Jeter Throwback

    Simple and succinct, this is an example of an ad designed to demonstrate the Jordan Brand puts as much attention to detail into Jeter’s sneakers as a 14-time All-Star deserves. The ad describes the Throwback’s elements of nine cleats worn by Jeter during significant games in his career, while making the point that it’s designed to hold up during his punishing workouts.

    Perhaps this is overkill; other similar ads merely show various angles of the sneaker with minimal description, and maybe that’s enough. But if Jeter and the Jordan crew put that much work into his signature models, it’s nice to be able to show it off a bit.

    “I’ve been meeting with the designers throughout the years, and it’s not like they’re just making a shoe and I’m signing off on it,” Jeter once said. “I really have a say, and they’ve really come up with some great ideas, they deserve a lot of credit.

    “It’s been a fun process for me.”

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  • 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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  • RE2PECT

    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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  • Derek Jeter
  • Derek Jeter
  • Derek Jeter
  • Derek Jeter

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