Sunday, July 27, 2014


Derek Jeter's All-Star game farewell is everything wrong with brand marketing today. (Note: my status as a Red Sox fan has little bearing on this assessment).

A couple of weeks ago I was watching the increasingly boring major league All-Star game when I was forced to sit through three minutes of unabated awkwardness - three minutes of uncomfortable high fiving, forced congratulations, and enough candy sprinkles to fill a Jeter souvenir ice cream helmet (or maybe just a Jeter gift-basket).

The viewing audience were forced to sit through a contrived celebration for the sake of one alarming and concerning trend in brand marketing, something I like to call "Moment Marketing".

In 2013, in the midst of Mariano Rivera's own yearlong self-congratulatory retirement party, during the 2013 All Star game, team Manager Jim Leyland asked his American League team to remain in the dugout while Rivera trotted to the mound for his final All Star game appearance. Viewers held witness to a truly touching moment as Rivera, the greatest Closer in baseball history, stood alone on the mound amid the cheers of thousands of fans in the stadium as well as his professional baseball peers. This moment was shared and viewed millions of times over the coming days in what was undoubtedly heralded as a perfect representation of baseball, perhaps in the same way that Field of Dreams represents baseball - as something more myth than sport.

Of course, this year when Jeter took the field for what would be his final All Star game appearance, the questions for most viewers had to be, "what type of moment will we get this year? How will they top last year's Yankee farewell?" and the rest is, well, nothing to remember at all. Major League Baseball predictably ruined it by force-feeding us a "moment" that even Walt Disney would have dismissed as too sugary, all for the sake of garnering free branding via a moment like Rivera's.

Unfortunately, today's marketing strives so much for these moments - things that are organically shared to the extent that they become marketing campaigns unto themselves - that they end up creating mere representations of what a true moment should look like. What we as the audience are left with aren't moments, but second-rate theater productions. And who wants to share that?