Tom Brady is leading his TB12 brand out of state.
And nothing, not even Brady’s professional identity as a player for a team that is not exactly beloved beyond New England borders, will stand in his way.
John Burns, CEO of TB12, spoke Thursday night of the company’s plans to double its retail outlets from two to four in 2020, with one more Massachusetts store in the works as well as another out of state.
With a customer base of aging men and women concerned with living an active lifestyle pain-free, Burns believes that the Patriot quarterback’s personal story will prove more compelling than NFL team loyalty.
“I believe that Tom is at a point in his career that he is beginning to transcend just being a Patriot,” said Burns during a “fireside chat” with brand strategist Larry Gulko at Babson College. “And I think what we’re trying to do, which is build a brand around longevity and help people do what they love better and for longer, I don’t think there’s a better person out there to tell that story and there’s not a person out there who doesn’t want to have that.
“So we are working hard to transition a little bit of the narrative and dialogue around Tom to get people to focus on who he is as a person as opposed to a Patriot player.”
Burns did not drop a pin on a map to indicate where either of the new locations will be. But he left plenty of clues.
“We’re looking at New York, we’re looking at south Florida, we’re looking at LA — the reason I’m looking into those markets is Tom’s celebrity stature, and those are the markets that I think will mitigate the risks a little bit,” said Burns, who said the company’s top five states for e-commerce have been Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Texas, and California.
TB12 currently has two retail outlets, one at Patriot Place in Foxborough, the other, which opened in late August, on Boylston Street in the Back Bay.
The stores sell apparel, workout gear, nutritional and dietary supplements, as well as one-on-one sessions with body coaches that are focused on performance, pliability, and recovery.
The outlier status when it comes to age and performance for the 42-year-old Brady is no secret in or out of New England. But the company still has a couple of perception issues to overcome when it comes to attracting customers to its stores or e-commerce business.
One misperception is that the company is only for professional athletes. Not true, said Burns.
Also untrue, or at least exaggerated, is the idea that Brady’s regimen is simply too out-there for regular folks, he said.
“I guess in Boston it’s a little worse than other places, but this perception that Tom’s got this lifestyle that — I don’t know if it’s cult-like or monastic at some level — ‘you can’t eat strawberries, you can only eat avocados’ and ‘this is too scary, I can’t take all of this on,’ ” said Burns. “All of which is not true.
“But with Tom, every little thing that he does gets co-opted and sensationalized at various levels, so we have to answer that.”
Besides boffo sales and growth, Burns said he and Brady want to keep a focus on the social value the company and its TB12 Foundation can provide.
Burns said the company will soon announce a donation of free services to veterans, and that a few weeks ago it helped out with the Boston Police Gang Task Force.
Burns acknowledged, “It’s not inexpensive to train with us and work with us,” so helping out young athletes is a priority as well.
“Tom, his big thing is he feels like the whole athletic training system is broken, it let him down and he found his own way to make it better,” said Burns. “Athletes are on the cycle of workout-injury-recovery, workout-injury-recovery and the whole system is broken.
“And so part of our dream from a social-value standpoint is to change the system, starting in youth sports. We’re going to start up here, and work our way back.
“That’s a big aspiration, a big goal from a purpose standpoint, but we’ll do it. We have the resources to do it and we have the platform to do it. It will take a little time, but we will do it.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.