#RE2PECT: A Lesson In Virality


By Dylan O'Shea By now, I am sure you have seen the RE2PECT video that Nike’s Jordan brand made as a tribute to Derek Jeter.



In this article, I'm going to examine how a brand was able to create a 100-second video and turn it into a 3-month nationwide farewell tour.

There are several reasons why the video was an instant hit/ For starters: sports and entertainment icons, large exposure to TV audiences, and recognizable brand names.  And while all of those things typically add up to success, it doesn't explain why people are still tweeting #RE2PECT over two months after the video was first released.

To understand how the Jordan brand was able to captivate and engage its audience so long after the initial ad was released, you need to first look at how the brand positioned the story.  The video takes you through the process of Derek Jeter walking up to the plate at Yankee Stadium as fans and cultural icons from across the country “tip their cap” in a gesture of gratitude for his career.  At the end of the spot, there is no pitch and no swing of the bat; it leaves the viewer wanting more, wanting to engage somehow.

That’s where social media comes in…

The video closes with the word "RE2PECT" across the screen, followed by “Pay Your #RE2PECT” subtly across the bottom.  This is a perfect example of how to encourage people to engage with your campaign without making them feel like it is a forced action.

Almost instantly people from all over the world started posting using the hashtag so that they too could pay their RE2PECT to the captain.  The hashtag became the tagline for Jeter's final season.

In the past week there have been over 10,000 tweets using the hashtag #RE2PECT, and while all of them reference Derek Jeter, many of them also include Nike or Jordan branding. This goes to show how powerful an ad can be if the story is crafted in the right way, if the call to action is authentic and inspiring, and (of course) if you have Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter.

There is no formula for creating a viral ad or marketing campaign that easily translates from the TV screen to social media, but if you take these important lessons from the #RE2PECT campaign, I am sure you will see that people will respond.

Can you think of any brands that were able to create and sustain a campaign long after its original air date by using social media?  Please share in the comments below!