Derek Jeter’s Feb. 12 announcement—that after spending 19 years in the Bronx, he plans on retiring after the 2014 season—wasn’t a huge shock to me. It’s likely Yankee management knew the news prior to the public, but how far in advance remains a mystery.
That said, the legendary shortstop will turn 40 in June and is only under contract through the end of this season. Whether he planned on playing after this year might have been unclear, but the fact that one day a man not named Jeter would patrol the shortstop dirt at Yankee Stadium sometime in the future was guaranteed (every athlete has a professional expiration date).
With an impending announcement—whenever it was going to take place—on the horizon, the Yankees proved to marketers across all verticals the importance of planning long-term campaigns well in advance. Immediately following the announcement made by Jeter, the 11th captain in Yankees’ history, the baseball team’s social media profiles began trickling out a well-crafted tribute campaign to honor the man who’s spent 19 years in pinstripes.
Releasing photos from the shortstop’s iconic career, the Yankees social media team also branded all of the Jeter-related content with the hashtag #FarewellCaptain. Immediately, fans around the country made the hashtag their own, offering up their own words of thanks, appreciation and sadness that the 2014 campaign will be his last.
While it certainly helps that the Yankees boast more than 6.8 million Facebook fans, each of their #FarewellCaptain posts gained over 60,000 likes. The hashtag has also been utilized extensively on Twitter and Instagram.
It remains to be seen how the Yankees and Jeter will fare this season, but one could expect that the hashtag #FarewellCaptain will accompany the team and the All-Star over the duration of the year. It appears as though the #ExitSandman hashtag associated with Mariano Rivera’s retirement was successful and helped prime the Yankees for what’s likely to be an even bigger celebration.
The 2014 campaign has not even started, but the Yankees—well, at least the team’s marketing department—is already shining.