SBJ/January 30-February 5, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

This Super Bowl QB is good on his feet with endorsements

Terry Lefton
Unless you’ve been living under the same rock as Geico’s ubiquitous caveman, you’ve heard that Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the fifth for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, tying a record established by John Elway.

Brady has won three Super Bowl rings; only Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw have more, with four. As impressive as those accomplishments are, from our vantage point at the intersection of sports and commerce, there’s another Brady achievement that merits recognition. It isn’t his poise in the pocket or his Hollywood looks. From Troy Aikman to Steve Young, Brady is the only NFL QB we know of with two shoe endorsement deals.

Actually, make that, he is the only pro athlete we know of with two shoe deals.

Between the lines, Brady pushes performance with Under Armour, which employs the NFL’s marquee man to market apparel and footwear. UA will splash Brady’s likeness across its NFL Experience installation this week in Indianapolis.

Earlier, Brady was nicely bookended with the league’s No. 1 draft pick of last year, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, in UA’s “Footsteps” campaign. Brady also helped push UA’s Charged Cotton apparel after the company changed from cotton being “the enemy” to water-repellent cotton outerwear being a sales opportunity.

“From Under Armour’s standpoint, Brady’s all about on-field performance and representing the best in the game,” said Stuart Redsun, senior vice president of brand marketing at UA, who recalled that O.J. Simpson had a deal with Dingo boots during his playing career.

Off the field, Brady is helping what had been a brand for women attack the other side of the business. Brady became the face of “UGG for Men” and appeared in the first TV ads of any kind for UGG or parent company Deckers Outdoor Corp. In Indianapolis this week, UGG is a sponsor of the lounge at the NFL Honors televised awards show Saturday night and is seeding its product among various media on site, from members on Radio Row to ESPN talent and members of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Former Reebok marketer David Pace helped negotiate the deal for UGG. Once it became clear in 2010 that incumbent Nike was not re-signing Brady, he met with Brady’s agents Don Yee and Steve Dubin, and he recalls them being immediately receptive to the deal since it would take Brady into new places. From those midsummer talks, it took from September to Thanksgiving to get the deal signed — and both of Brady’s deals were signed and made public less than a month apart.

“We knew Brady would get an on-field deal and we were pretty sure it would be with Under Armour, so it was just a case of working in what turned out to be parallel paths and protecting our space,” said Pace, now an independent sports marketing consultant in Hingham, Mass. “That we both got [footwear] deals done is a tribute to Brady’s fame and the unique situation UGG was in: They needed someone to jump-start their men’s business. And we were just as happy it was Under Armour; their business is so young, they don’t really have casual footwear.”

You could make the case that Brady has helped both brands. Brady is a paragon of legitimacy for Under Armour as it works to establish itself in footwear, and for UGG, he gives men a reason to consider a brand that grew up as a women’s fashion trademark.

So, if Brady wins Super Bowl ring No. 4 on Sunday, we’ll be impressed — but not as awed as if you could show us a way he could shoehorn a dress-shoe endorsement into his mix of footwear.

DEW IT: ESPN’s Mike & Mike (as in Greenberg and Golic) join fellow ESPN on-air talent Erin Andrews and Dick Vitale for a Diet Mountain Dew spot in which Greenberg offers to trade the right to co-host the show for a bottle of Diet Dew. The ad, filmed in Hartford, Conn., earlier this month, should break next month and is part of a “Fuel the Frenzy’’ campaign running in and around college basketball programming. Headline Media of New York represents both Greenberg and Golic.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.


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