The Image Repair Tactics of Tom Brady

Rachel and I decided to write our image repair paper over Tom Brady and the Deflategate scandal. I have explained our findings within this blog post.



I. Abstract and Introduction 

During the 2015 AFC Championship game the New England Patriots won against the Indianapolis Colts and were advancing to Suprbowl XLIX set for two weeks later. During the game there were speculations surrounding the air pressure of the footballs. After further investigation it was found that 11 of the 12 of the balls’ air pressure was lower than NFL regulation. The NFL asserted that Brady was somehow involved and or knew something about the plan to deflate the balls. After lawsuits and a game suspension as punishment, this scandal tarnished Brady’s image.

The image repair tactics that Brady used are:

  • Denial
  • Reducing responsibility of the actor
    • Defeasibility
  • Reducing the offensiveness of the act
    • Bolstering

We found that Brady did not use mortification. Which was questionable because through research it is discovered that mortification is the most effective image repair tactic.

II. Literature Review 

Our literature review consists of ten different articles that deal with people in the public Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 10.25.34 AMeye and their quest for image repair.
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The subjects of our articles consist of: Michael Phelps, Terrell Owens, Michael Vick, Floyd Landis, Manti Te’o, David Letterman, Gary Condit, George W. Bush, former President Obama and the company of Firestone. Although we are focusing on someone in sports, there are limited articles on sports personnel. We decided to include various public figures and their quests for image repair because they use many of the same tactics as Brady when attempting to rectify deflate gate.

III. Research Questions

Through our initial readings we created four questions to be answered within our own research of the situation:

  1. Was Brady’s decision to forego the use of the mortification strategy one that was to help his overall image or solely his career?
  2. How does this event continue to impact his image?
  3. What image repair strategies did Brady use during his press conference?
  4. Did the lack of use of social media negatively impact his repair campaign?

Brady at the time had a lack in a social media presence. He did not have a Twitter or Instagram at the time, only a Facebook. Because of that it left Rachel and I very limited on what social media posts we could study for our research. However, there is one Facebook post that continues to stand out which is a response that Brady (or his publicist) posted on his Facebook page.

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Screenshot of Brady’s Facebook post.


IV. Findings

Through our research we have found that Brady is not a well liked man. This scandal has fueled audiences’ hatred for him and the team. Although there are some die-hard Patriots fans that will follow Brady through hell, the fans that put Brady on blast have a more lasting impact on Brady’s image. Through our findings we were able to answer our research questions:

Brady’s decision to forego the mortification strategy was to help both his overall image and his career. It is undetermined wether or not the reasoning behind not using mortification was advised from his representation because it would have been an admission of guilt.

For seven months Brady was the center of the Deflategate scandal. Although the scandal has passed Brady still has become a known for not just being a player in the New England Patriots but the man who is associated with this football scandal. It has overshadowed his, and the Patriots accomplishments and does continue to be brought to light. Some believe that the Patriots winning Superbowl LI put to rest the negativity surrounding the team. However, their win fueled some audiences’ hatred for Brady and the team. Despite Brady’s negative image, his Hall-of-Fame accolades are justified and he is continuing to play for the Patriots.

The image repair strategies that Brady used in his press conference were denial, bolstering and defeasability. Throughout Brady’s image repair, he continued to deny any relation to the criminal acts that were taken. He denied any prior knowledge of the situation and denied any involvement. Brady used bolstering when he said that he would never do anything to break the rules and that he would never judge anyone’s belief system. Brady used defeasability by continuing to claim that he had no prior knowledge of plans to commit the act or the act itself.

The lack of social media did negativley impact Brady’s career. Had Brady had an established social media presence he could have used that platform to not only release his own statements to the public but put himself in a better light. The use of social media, in the past, has proven to be a useful tool in image repair. Brady’s empty presence on social media proved to not damage his image repair further but it did not propel it forward.

V. Conclusions, Implications and Limitations

For future research, we suggest scholars study Brady’s social media tactics alongside another athlete’s use of social media in an image repair crisis. This would shed additional light on the use of social media and how it helps or hinders image repair campaigns. It would also reveal whether or not Brady lost potential to recover his image by neglecting to utilize social media more than he did.

Our advice to Brady would be to better utilize social media and consider how all his actions affect the public’s perception of him. For example, destroying his cell phone during court proceedings further tarnished his image. If he had been more mindful of his actions and their consequences to his image, he might have been more successful in his campaign, even without using mortification. However, without using mortification at all, it would be difficult for Brady to succeed in repairing his image.

Compared to other cases, our research is consistent with the literature because it supports the conclusion that mortification is the key tactic to success in image restoration campaigns. Brady failed to fully recover from Deflategate, as any other article regarding image repair would have revealed before Deflategate even occurred.

Limitations of our study would include the limited number of Brady’s responses we were able to analyze. Because the controversy lasted so long and involved court proceedings, we chose to focus on the main tactics Brady consistently used throughout his campaign to attain the most accurate findings. However, there were likely many occasions on which Brady appeared in the news or made statements we were unable to analyze because of their sheer number.


Initial Findings

By: Kate Warren


Our initial findings regarding the Tom Brady scandal Deflategate and his image repair tactics were puzzling. Brady, a man who has become a household name across America was accused of being associated with the deflation of footballs during the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship game. His accusations resulted in a four game suspension that he fought and repealed.

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Screenshot of Facebook audience response.

Brady’s image repair tactics included defeasibility, denial and bolstering. However, the interesting aspect of his image repair strategy was the lack of mortification or corrective action. During the height of Deflategate’s press conferences, trials and news coverage, Brady denied any association with the act of deflating the balls or with anyone involved with deflating the balls. He however never apologized for the act occurring nor showed any kind of remorse or leadership during the scandal.

Studies have proven how successful the use of mortification as an image repair tactic is. It really begs the question would Brady’s image repair have been more successful if he had admitted guilt or would it have damaged it further.

Brady had a lack of social media during this event. He just recently created an Instagram account. We also are bringing into question his lack of social media in whether that help or hurt his image repair.

Audiences had mixed emotions about the accusations aimed toward Brady. Many did support him and advocated for his innocence while others turned away during his time of trial.



My partner Rachel Smith and I decided to write our image repair research paper on New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.


ESPN headshot of Tom Brady

The Patriots were involved in a scandal in which they intentionally under inflated the footballs used in the American Football Conference (AFC) championship game of the 2014-15 NFL playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts. The result of this controversy resulted in Brady being suspended for four games as well as the team being fined $1 million and the loss two draft picks. This issue continued to be a large topic of discussion even into 2016 because of the Patriot’s Super Bowl LI victory. After that game, Brady won MVP of the game which stirred up mixed reviews.

When choosing this topic, I was apprehensive. I had no prior knowledge of football coming into this assignment. “Deflategate“, as it is now referred to, had been a known scandal in the media for weeks so it was impossible for me to miss. However, my lack of football knowledge has proven to be a hinderance when trying to research and work on this assignment.

We are excited to continue our research on the topic of Tom Brady and Deflategate. Brady did not handle the situation as many would have expected him to in his position. This gives us a lot of information to work with and expand upon.


Evaluating Our Campaign Success


The main goal for our campaign is to bring attention to the Hidden Treasures by Caritas stores. We have created an event to highlight these stores and the services and items that they offer. The Back To School Bash will feature items that are specific to helping kids return back to school at a very discounted price to help the community and students.

Caritas has a solid media presence already and we hope to only improve that through our campaign. What they need most help on is social media and more specifically their Facebook. We hope to increase their Facebook likes by 10 percent and refine their image which will help their overall social media presence.

Below I have included an image of their Facebook page that we will be working on:

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Facebook Page(s):


We will use Facebook analytics to measure the success of our work on the Facebook page and to gauge our progress throughout.

Another goal of ours is to increase overall media coverage by five percent. We plan to place fliers and other print media in new locations to expand our target market. One of our actions to increase the media presence is to send out stories to existing as well as new media outlets as well as send out news blasts to update the media of the goings-on within the organization.

We hope this campaign is successful in spreading awareness of the Hidden Treasures by Caritas stores as well as aid them in their goal to help end hunger in McLennan County. Our group is excited to continue to aid this organization in their efforts.


Goals & Objectives

By Kate Warren


This week I got together with my fellow teammates and we created a list of goals and objectives to aid Caritas and their stores, Hidden Treasures. This photo is the document we created portraying our goals, objectives and tactics:


Our first goal is to increase the overall awareness for the Hidden Treasures by Caritas stores. There has been some confusion linked with the stores since their rebranding so we have set out to not only attract attention to the stores but to help with possible confusion. The objectives of this goal is to create one event that is specific to Hidden Treasures to help promote the stores. We also hope to increase media coverage by 5 percent as well as increase direct communication to supporters of Hidden Treasures by 15 percent. Caritas has a great media presence already as seen in this article here:–Caritas-opens-new-bigger-thrift-store-397515281.html     and we hope to only improve it.

The tactics to help us achieve our goal are to actually plan and execute the event, pitch updates on the store to the Waco Tribune-Herald, KWTX and KXXV twice a month so that we can keep the media in the loop and increase our social media presence. Our last tactic is to include information on Hidden Treasures specifically in the quarterly Caritas newsletter as well as send out a monthly email blast with information on sales within the store.

Our second goal is to expand Hidden Treasures customer base. The objectives of this goal are to change the perception of Hidden Treasures to reflect new branding, increase store traffic by 20 people per week and increase advertising by 5 percent. To reach this goal our tactics are to promote higher-end merchandise as well as sales specifically through social media platforms and to place print advertisements in new locations based on our target market.

The third goal that we created is to improve social media use. The objectives for this goal are to clear up confusion surrounding the Hidden Treasures Facebook pages because they currently have two running simultaneously for two different locations. The remaining objectives are to increase Facebook page likes by 10 percent and to improve the visual content of the page. To help execute our goal, our tactics are to consolidate their two Facebook pages into one, invite people to like the Hidden Treasures page and link event pages to the Hidden Treasures main page and finally post appealing photo or graphic with each Facebook update.

These goals and objectives that we have created we hope will help Caritas and their new rebranding.


First Impressions


My team and I have decided to assist the non-profit organization Caritas with a PR campaign for a potential new event to promote their active thrift stores and minimize confusion.

The shops have adopted the name Hidden Treasures by Caritas. Caritas chose this name to shy away from the stigma that is associated to thrift stores. All of the proceeds from these shops go directly back to Caritas to help fund their other services. Unfortunately confusion has coincided with these stores because of the change of name so this campaign and potential event sets out to wipe out confusion with stores and increase awareness.

Our SWOT analysis that we created for this organization highlight their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths of this organization really set a nice foundation for a potential promotional event. Their strong fundraising network and name recognition within the community help create a strong start to create a PR campaign.


Caritas’ weaknesses other than their several physical locations and their recent rebranding are their inability to meet demand and almost too much of a differentiation of services.  These weaknesses are few and have the potential to transform positively throughout the duration of the campaign.

The opportunities for this organization have the ability to make this campaign very successful and help increase the overall awareness of Caritas. Their proximity to the Baylor community leaves them open to help from young, eager individuals who are looking to give back and volunteer.

Unfortunately, the threats are unable to be controlled. Slump in the economy, crop issues and weather are out of the hands of the organization and therefore are still potential threats no matter how much preparation is put forth to prevent such issues.

Caritas has done a good job of keeping a strong social media presence.

In my opinion I believe that this campaign and proposed event have the potential to make a major change to the awareness of the Hidden Treasures by Caritas shops and make a successful shift into its new name change.