Two months after Nike paid tribute to Derek Jeter with a much-discussed ad titled "RE2PECT,'' another of his longtime sponsors took its turn Thursday when Gatorade unveiled a spot that quickly became an Internet sensation.
The 90-second ad, which won't be on TV in full until Saturday, shows Jeter interacting with fans while walking to a game at Yankee Stadium, backed by Frank Sinatra singing "My Way.''
As Jeter talked about it before Thursday night's game, the ad was being previewed on a TV news program in the middle of the Yankees' clubhouse.
"Did it come out today?'' Jeter asked.
When asked how the ad came about, Jeter said: "It was an opportunity, I felt deservedly, to thank people, which I've been consistent with every time I spoke, how much the fans have meant to me in my career. So it's sort of a way to thank them for what they've meant to me. So it was a fun experience.''
Molly Carter, Gatorade's senior director of consumer engagement, told Adweek that Jeter himself suggested an ad that showed him thanking Yankees fans and that he selected "My Way'' as the song that best summed up his career.
"I like the song,'' Jeter said. "I've always liked the song. It's fitting. I thought it fit for what I'm going through. I'm happy we were able to use it.''
Asked if he is a big Sinatra fan, Jeter, 40, joked to a 48-year-old reporter: "I like him. He's more your era than mine.''
The fans with whom Jeter is shown interacting were genuinely surprised, Carter told Adweek. She said an area near the stadium was roped off before a game in July and the producers "just kind of let Jeter go.''
Said Jeter: "It didn't take long. I was really out there for 30 minutes, I think.''
The ad first will be seen in its entirety on television Saturday on YES and Fox. Jeter also authored a print ad for Gatorade in which he thanks fans, writing, in part, "From my first at-bat until my final out, you helped make me who I am. For that I am forever thankful.''
Thursday night's game against Toronto was the opener of the final homestand of Jeter's career. Unless the Yankees make a miracle run to the playoffs, Jeter's final home game will be next Thursday and his last series will be Sept. 26-28 in Boston. With Anthony Rieber