- Associated Press - Monday, September 12, 2011

By making Tom Brady the centerpiece of a new advertising campaign, UGG is hoping to show its furry footware isn’t just for teenage girls anymore.

Maybe they should have looked a little deeper into Brady’s background.

The football icon has always been more of an iconoclast when it comes to style, with choices that have turned him into the target of some (mostly) good-natured ribbing in the locker room. The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player was photographed for a men’s magazine cradling a goat in his arms and caught at carnival in Brazil sporting a ponytail _ looks more in line with UGG’s old demographic than the new one it is trying to court.

And then there’s the Justin Bieber haircut.

As one Twitterer said, “Ugh, indeed.”

But the company, which actually started out making sheepskin boots for men to wear after surfing, believes it has found the right guy, calling the husband of supermodel Gisele Bundchen “a leader who is distinctive, authentic, and has effortless grace and style.” In a television ad scheduled to debut during the Patriots season-opener against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, the quarterback models a handful of men’s UGG shoes, boots and slippers.

“Our goal is to introduce men to the UGG experience through this campaign by pairing the rugged, masculine design sensibility of our collection with the unique comfort you get only when you put your foot inside our shoes and take a few steps,” UGG Australia president Constance X. Rishwain said in a release.

The TV commercial called “Steps” _ a 60-second version was released online in advance _ has music from hip hop artist Mos Def in the background while Brady walks, runs and drops back on the sidewalk in a variety of UGG shoes. He does not speak, and his face is rarely shown until the end of the commercial, when he stares dimple-chinned into the camera from a football locker room.

It’s the first broadcast commercial for UGG, which is a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation. Corresponding print ads are scheduled to run in a handful of men’s and sports publications, and the campaign also includes online content and billboards and “Tall Walls” in Los Angeles, Boston and New York.

One ad near Madison Square Garden in Manhattan is about 10 stories high, featuring Brady, arms crossed, with jeans and a stern look.

Brady has chosen to accept fewer endorsement opportunities than other high-profile athletes like LeBron James or Tiger Woods. And unlike rival Peyton Manning, who is as ubiquitous on NFL broadcasts during the commercial breaks as he is during the game, Brady has opted for smaller, targeted campaigns like Stetson cologne, Movado watches and Audi.

When it comes to his new kicks, the three-time Super Bowl champion is a good corporate soldier.

“It was always my favorite Christmas present to get,” the company’s release quotes him as saying. “I have been wearing the UGG for a long time.”

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