For Tom Brady, September doesn’t just mark the beginning of football season — it’s also the start of fall fashion season.
The Patriots quarterback is set to appear Tuesday in a new ad campaign for footwear and fashion company UGG Australia, famous for its ubiquitous sheepskin boots. The company is trying to build on the success of its women’s line and expand into the men’s footwear market, which is where Brady comes in.
The campaign, a blend of television, digital, print, and outdoor ads, will feature Brady wearing various shoes from the UGG for Men line. The flagship ad of the campaign is a TV spot called “Invisible Game,” which shows Brady catching an imaginary football thrown by a young fan at the airport. Passengers and airport employees soon get in on the make-believe game, assuming offensive and defensive formations as an UGG-wearing Brady calls a play and gives the boy a knowing nod. Brady steps back, evades pressure, and finally throws an imaginary Hail Mary pass that the boy catches for a touchdown.
Filming for the ad, which was completed earlier this year, went smoothly, according to UGG Australia president Connie Rishwain. Often called a consummate professional in his role as a football player, Brady is earning similar praise as a pitchman.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the relationship,” said Rishwain. “He was definitely our first choice and, for us, an obvious choice, because he is so professional. . . . He’s a leader in his field, he’s obviously attractive, and he’s articulate, not arrogant.”
This is the second go-round for Brady and UGG Australia, a division of Deckers Outdoor Corp. An initial campaign that began last year was less football-centric than the new spots, which are aimed squarely at men.
“We were lacking awareness,” admitted Rishwain. “Men perceived us as a women’s brand. But now, bringing [Brady] into the picture, men are like, ‘Oh they make men’s shoes, not just sheep’s skin boots.’ ”
While it remains to be seen whether UGG Australia can transcend its image as a women’s brand, Rishwain said sales of the company’s men’s products have grown over the past year. She attributed that growth in part to Brady, who has worn the company’s “Ascot” slipper “for years,” and is also known to sport the “Butte” boot.
Rishwain declined to disclose specific terms of Brady’s deal with UGG Australia, but said it was a multiyear contract that lets Brady order UGG shoes for himself, his family, and his teammates. Before this year’s Super Bowl, the entire Patriots locker room got hooked up with a free pair of UGGs.
Brady is “pretty close to the perfect package for an advertiser or sponsor,” said Jim Andrews, a senior vice president with IEG LLC, a sponsorship consultancy. “His qualities are pretty obvious: He’s a great athlete with a winning team, he’s led them to championships, plus he has the model good looks to go along with that, and a big fan base of men and women.”
Andrews said that while Brady’s deal with UGG Australia is a nontraditional pick for an athlete, and could potentially turn off “old-school football guys,” it could also be effective at helping the company’s image evolve.
“It’s not as if you see the ad and say, ‘Oh, I have to have that because Tom Brady has that,’ ” Andrews said. “It really is more about positioning the brand and saying it’s safe for men to like UGGs.”