The hat trick made Carli Lloyd unattainable.
At least that's what Todd Leff, Hand & Stone Massage & Facial Spa chief executive officer, thought while watching last summer's World Cup.
Leff and Lloyd had begun negotiations three weeks before the tournament for her to become the Philadelphia-based company's pitchwoman. But after that memorable final against Japan in which Lloyd scored three goals to help the United States win the women's soccer title, he thought all bets were off.
"I was emailing my executives and adding dollar signs after each goal," Leff said with a laugh. "After the third goal, I said, 'Forget her. She outpriced us.' "
But the Delran native and 2015 FIFA player of the year didn't back out. She had been a regular at Hand & Stone for massages as part of her athletic training.
She signed a two-year deal with Hand & Stone in November to be the firm's first national spokeswoman. Print and online ads began Jan. 1, and Lloyd is set to shoot TV commercials in Los Angeles on Sunday that will air in March.
"We went out with the idea that we wanted a young, female, empowering athlete to represent our brand," Leff said. "Seventy percent of our customer base is women, and the average age of our female customer has gone from 42 to 38.
"We are trying to appeal to a younger female demographic whose life is really represented by health and wellness," he said.
After some research, Leff learned that Lloyd had been a member since 2012 and "would be a great brand ambassador."
Lloyd said she is a big believer in massage.
"Regular massages have become an important piece to my success and the health of my body," Lloyd said in an email.
"I honestly was excited about the idea of partnering with Hand & Stone right off the bat!" she said. "I believe firmly that they are the best massage and facial spa franchise in the country. . . . I try to get massages at least twice each week so that I can perform at the highest level possible."
Lloyd, who is represented by the William Morris Agency, said she "thoughtfully" considers each marketing inquiry.
"The number-one prerequisite is that the brand has to be something I believe in and has to be relevant to my lifestyle," she said. "Hand & Stone was a slam dunk because it was already a part of my routine."
After her World Cup performance, sports agents and marketing experts predicted that Lloyd had to capitalize on her fame quickly with her vast social media following. She has more than 500,000 followers on Facebook.
Hand & Stone is also making waves as one of the fastest-growing franchise chains in the massage and facial spa industry.
Launched in 2004 by physical therapist John Marco, and now led by Leff, the company has 255 operating spas in 28 states and Canada. This year, it plans to open 70 more spas around the country.
It has 44 offices in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey. Its mission statement: "to bring massage and facial services to the masses."
A facial or massage package starts at $49.95, and a hot stone massage starts at $69.95.
"The whole model . . . was to bring the luxury spa service to the middle market and make it more convenient," said Leff, 56, who became CEO in 2009 when the firm had only 25 locations and grossed $10 million in sales.
Case in point: The Hand & Stone at 2500 Grant Ave. in the Northeast set the record for first-year sales and the highest single-week sales in the company's history last year. The company had more than $185 million in sales last year.
"We locate in large, big-box anchor shopping centers where people know and trust the environment," Leff said. "We're open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at night.
"As a result, 50 percent of our business is booked for same-day service. They want it now."
Leff, who graduated from Temple Law School, is a former federal prosecutor in Philadelphia. For 20-plus years, he was CEO of Cottman Transmission and Aamco Transmission.
In 2009, he sold his interests in those companies to a public company and retired for 90 days before taking over Hand & Stone.