As Patriots fans nervously await third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s starting debut against this Texans this Thursday, Tom Brady is apparently doing nothing**.
Though the Patriots are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, they are far from universally loved. As Brady’s New York Times profiler Mark Leibovich pointed out:
“So much about the team [is] unlikable to the outside world, partly for reasons of jealousy but also for legitimate ones — cheating scandals, for starters, and a head coach who treats his public-relations duties as something akin to lice removal”.
Tom Brady’s personal brand has shared the burden of the love-or-hate dynamic that has followed the franchise since Bill Belichick’s instatement in 2000. The Patriots head coach is infamously private, often appearing curt and abrasive in an effort to center the team’s narrative around football and football alone. For the majority of his career, Brady undeniably followed Belichick’s careful PR strategy: when you win, say little; when you lose, say less. But after twelve starting seasons as the quiet face of the Patriots franchise, Brady finally gave himself the voice his fans–and his brand– desperately needed.
In June of 2014, Tom Brady joined Facebook. Or rather, his longtime managers Ben Rawitz and Jeff Fine did it for him. The three collaborate on posts for The Official Fan Page of Tom Brady, which currently has 3.8 million likes.
The page itself is relatively basic. In the “About” section, fans can view Tom’s birthday (we share it–one of two things Tom Brady and I have in common, the other being Chestnut Hill), a link to his NFL player bio, and a timeline of significant events in his career. Fans cannot post to the page themselves, and I would hazard a guess that only positive fan comments are allowed on his posts.
Instead, the real value of the Tom Brady Facebook page comes from the content.
Capitalizing off of his role as a young father, Brady’s team has catered his Facebook posts to mostly sound like dad jokes–and the results are nothing short of entertaining. Whether it be a photoshopped picture of the quarterback with two bald eagles on his arm, a goofy quip at a teammate, or a post making fun of his sub-par dancing skills, Brady’s page is light hearted and engaging, eliciting praise from fans across the globe.
Furthering the family-man image, Brady’s posts often include praise of his wife Gisele, or express his love for his three children. His media team also takes full advantage of the #tbt hashtag, often posting old pictures of Tom with his sisters or parents.
This communicated sense of parenthood and nostalgia is not accidental. Brady is operating on a very specific social media platform–one whose user base is mostly over the age of 35. By choosing to stick to Facebook and steer clear of, say, Instagram, Brady’s management team has selected a specific and receptive audience to cater his clean-cut image to. The decision seems to be paying off handsomely, as Brady was the leader in BrandPrint t-shirt sales through Facebook ads last year.
Brady’s Facebook, although mostly for fun, became a crucial tool in the wake of the Deflategate scandal. After a disastrous press conference, his team was able to craft a carefully constructed and more eloquent message to fans that steered the narrative back towards his innocence. As the investigation continued, Brady utilized Facebook as a means to update fans on the process. His rhetoric came across as both intimate and genuinely Tom–a persona that would have been much harder for fans to identify had he not joined the platform a year before.
Though some of you may be seething reading a post on the evil TB12, look past the Brady identity to his social media team. Rawitz and Fine have, for the most part, successfully controlled the Brady narrative through some of the highest and lowest points of his career. By only utilizing a single platform to communicate from the athlete to the public, Brady’s team was able to streamline his image and efficiently control the potential for error and backlash. Though you may not agree with all of his off-the-field tactics, Tom Brady is certainly doing social media–and a few other things–just right.
**Fortunately, he’ll have to take those UGGs off soon. Just over two weeks ’til #BradyIsFreed!