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Brand Scorecard | Rating Jeter’s Tribute Ads

Tribute ad scorecard

Author: Mike Kuczkowski

Two major brands, Nike’s Jordan brand and Gatorade, have produced tribute ads to Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter, who retires this week. Which did a better job of expressing Jeter’s brand? Here’s our scorecard.


Produced by Nike’s Jordan brand, the spot features celebrities, athletes, firefighters, police, doormen and fans appropriating Jeter’s signature hat tip, under the line R2SPECT — integrating Jeter’s uniform number into the headline in an iconic manner. It debuted in July, at the time of Jeter’s 14th and final All-Star Game.


Produced by Gatorade, Jeter helped conceive of the ad as a ‘thank you to fans.’ The ad takes a narrative approach, following Jeter on his path to the stadium as he interacts with fans, signs baseballs for kids, walks on the field and — you guessed it — tips his cap to the stadium crowd. It debuted last week, in advance of Jeter’s final home games at Yankee Stadium.


Team-orientation B Jeter’s in uniform, at bat, in Yankee Stadium. Beyond that, not much here that connects him to his teammates. But he’s at the center of the broader community of baseball and New York. A- By focusing on fans, the ad makes them part of the team; the use of ‘My Way’ connects it to Yankee lore; the stadium and its environs highlight to his (rare) single-team career.
Effort B+ The entire ad, with celebrities, athletes, police and everyday fans tipping their hats to Jeter, seems hinged on the premise that people are acknowledging him for how he has played the game. It’s a bit of a hidden way to express the value, but it does come across. B Jeter’s engagement with fans shows him to be real, accessible and appreciative; he’s clearly making an effort to engage with his supporters.
Respect B+ As much as it’s the title of the ad, it does little to showcase Jeter’s respect for the game and its history. It does feature “Voice of God” announcer Bob Shephard introducing Jeter at bat, which is a nice touch. (And will be missed now that Jeter is retiring.) A The ad is full of little touches that convey Jeter’s sense of reverence for the game and his place in it: The way he pauses and looks at the crowd before he enters the stadium; the scene in monument park; the way he taps a sign with a quote from Joe DiMaggio before he steps onto the field.
Consistency B Even Red Sox fans tip their caps to him, which must mean he did something right. A- The tempo of his gait, tone of voice in engaging with fans in video is low-key, humble.
Clutch C He never swings the bat. Which is probably a good thing. Clutch is hard to convey without resorting to highlight reels, of which we’ve seen plenty. B+ When the owner of Stan’s says “I’ve been waiting for you to come in here since ‘98, at least,” Jeter quips dryly “You never invited me.” And then he signs a photo of himself. Cool under pressure!

OUR TAKE: “R2SPECT” is a brand testimonial ad. It works because it leverages familiar faces and team symbols. While it has a somber tone, it uses humor to good effect, particularly when the San Diego mascot realizes he’s a friar and lacks a hat. But it won’t age well, as kids will wonder who those people are. Ultimately, it delivers the message that the world respects Jeter.

“Made in New York,” on the other hand takes a “show, don’t tell” approach, conveying a lot through Jeter’s journey to and into the stadium. The Jeter brand comes through in a way that is timeless.

WINNER: Made in New York

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