Derek Jeter and the Endorsement Field of Dreams

Derek Jeter’s playing career may be over but he’s fielding a host of new opportunities as a celebrity spokesperson and motivational speaker.


As summer fades into autumn professional baseball is entering into the home stretch. Teams are jockeying for position in both leagues for a chance to compete for the pennant and ultimately, the World Series. Although this procession of sport and season seems so familiar this particular cycle marks the end of a magnificent era in baseball history. One of the game’s greatest heroes has hung up the cleats after 20 prolific years in pinstripes.

Derek Jeter has been the face of the New York Yankee franchise since he burst onto the scene in 1996. A champion on the field as well as in the realm of marketing, Jeter’s farewell campaign has taken on a life of its own. Aside from being honored by his own franchise, each team has honored Jeter at his last away game at their respective stadium. This speaks to the character and image he personifies, an image that has and will become priceless to corporations. The image is priceless because it links their product with a known winner and a true American icon without a controversial blemish.

Throughout his career Jeter has been involved in endorsement deals with distinguished corporations such as Nike, Gatorade, Movado, Visa, Ford, Gillette and Avon just to name a few. Recently, Gatorade and Nike subsidiary Jordan brand created powerful and touching TV commercials that featured countless fans tipping their cap to Jeter in a sign of respect. The Jordan ad includes cameos from the likes of Jay-Z, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Spike Lee, and even some Red Sox fans make an appearance tipping their caps in reserved admiration for #2.

Jeter is not only a professional athlete he is a professional businessman who is well equipped for life beyond the baseball diamond. He has signed two major deals, one to become a partner and Brand Development Officer for Luvo, a healthy-food developer and marketer. He has also cofounded Jeter Publishing with the help of Simon & Schuster Inc. In the days following his retirement, he has debuted a new website, The Players Tribune, to help better connect former players with their fans. These off-field moves undoubtedly have laid the foundation for a successful and lucrative departure from baseball, a departure that feels more like a second arrival in many respects.

Jeter’s transition into baseball afterlife causes us to reflect on the transition that many of the game’s greats have made. Naturally, a career analyzing the sport you retired from in a broadcasting booth is appealing and fruitful for many after their playing days. Former ball players like Dennis Eckersley, John Kruk, and Curt Schilling have all enjoyed successful broadcasting careers, while others pursue various avenues from franchise management to entrepreneurship.

Many players finally have the time in their schedules to make paid appearances and become great motivational speakers for corporate events, fundraisers and sports camps. Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, Jim Abbott and Goose Gossage are just a few of the many former major leaguers who make regular appearances as motivational guest speakers for events. Jeter was an incredible teammate and over the years he shared the field with several Yankee legends who have gone on to become motivational speakers including Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and Tino Martinez.

The Captain seems to be headed for more than just motivational speaking. It’s no question Jeter knows how to entertain a crowd so he will make a great motivational and inspirational sports speaker in his own right. The fact is, the Yankee great has become a celebrity synonymous with success and class. You can’t beat that. Those two elements are essential to maintaining your personal brand long after your playing days are over. If your company is in need of a thrilling guest keynote speaker for your next corporate event, #2 should’ve just become target #1.