Derek Jeter's New York Yankees career closely mirrors Fox Sports' broadcast history with Major League Baseball. The Yankees shortstop earned Rookie of the Year honors and led the Bronx Bombers to a World Series championship in 1996 -- the first season that Fox carried MLB games. He appeared in a promo in 1997 highlighting his honor.
With the future Hall of Famer retiring after this season, the Yankees Captain was a natural to star in a new national ad campaign urging viewers to tune in for Fox Sports 1's live coverage of MLB games every Saturday, said Robert Gottlieb, exec VP of marketing for Fox Sports Media Group. The new spot starring Mr. Jeter will air heavily this week around coverage of MLB's 2014 Opening Day.
Created by FS1's creative agency, Pereira & O'Dell, New York, the spot likens Mr. Jeter to another famous captain -- William Shatner of Star Trek -- and features fellow MLB superstars such as David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.
Rather than the usual game footage of stars bashing baseballs or making great catches, the ads take a humorous approach. We see Mr. Ortiz of the Red Sox eating cookies baked by Grandma in the stands, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels grinning in the dugout and Josh Hamilton of the Angels tipping his cap.
The message: the best day of the week just got better with the Saturday baseball games on FS1.
"Every Saturday you can just sit back and feel like a great old captain," says the narrator flashing a picture of "cool" captains such as James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Finally, we see the coolest captain of all: Mr. Jeter nodding and smiling in his Yankee pinstripes.
The FS1 ads will serve primarily as an "awareness campaign," said Mr. Gottlieb.
"People don't know, necessarily, that Fox Sports 1 is going to be broadcasting baseball. So we really wanted to make something that communicated, very clearly, Saturday Baseball on Fox Sports 1 as a destination. We definitely wanted to use baseball star players to help carry the mail for us and deliver the message. But we wanted to cut through the clutter. And do something other than clips of baseball players, which can kind of get lost in the wash."
Pereira is working up two other new commercials in the same light-hearted vein, said Mr. Gottlieb. The future spots will feature other stars including: Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; Jose Batista of the Toronto Blue Jays; and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox.
The agency wants to show "a different side" to MLB players to help fans get excited about the upcoming season on FS1, said Dave Arnold, executive creative director at Pereira.
Many of Mr. Jeter's greatest game moments were televised by Fox, including the "flip" cutoff play against the Oakland A's during Game 3 of the American League Division Series and his "Mr. November" World Series walk-off home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks, both in 2001.
Realizing his star power, Fox has cast Mr. Jeter in many tune-in promotional spots over the years. "He's been a central part of baseball on Fox and baseball in general," said Mr. Gottlieb. The shortstop was a regular in promos for the All-Star Game.
After struggling with injuries in recent years, Mr. Jeter told FS1's Mike Francesa he won't change his mind about retiring, even if he has a crazy good season.