The Public Apology is proud to present its latest mini-series, ‘Branding Bernie’: How Bernard Tomic Got His Mojo Back. Here, we look at the forgotten man of tennis, Bernard Tomic, and his desperate bid to recapture the hearts and minds of the Australian tennis public…

PART ONE: MEET AND GREET

Bernard Tomic sat in the waiting room, slumped languidly across two chairs, nervously biting his finger nails in anticipation. It was a habit he’d tried many times to shake, but old habits die hard, and if he was being honest, chewed fingernails were the least of his concerns. There were much more pressing matters at hand – more insidious habits that needed shaking – and that’s exactly what had brought him here, at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning, in the hope of starting afresh.

For years, he’d relished in the role of tennis bad boy, but out of nowhere, a new market entrant had emerged, in the form of Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios was the new enfant terrible of Australian tennis – attracting headlines and polarising opinions for his bolshie behaviour; a colourful, flamboyant symbol of modernity. To top it all off, Kyrgios was actually good. He was winning games of tennis – important ones, too – something that Bernard certainly wasn’t doing. Both on and off the court, Kyrgios was getting eyeballs; sparking conversation…

Something had to change.

“Mr Tomic, we’re ready. Follow me, please,” a young assistant purred, shaking Bernard from his meandering thoughts. He complied with her directive, taking care to admire her ample posterior as they scaled the flight of stairs.

Old habits die hard, don’t they Bernie? Old habits die hard…

Just as soon as he’d made his way up the stairs, Bernard heard his name.

“Bernard! Delighted you could make it. Welcome to Deep Visioning!”

He looked up. A well-dressed man, late-30s, perhaps early-40s, was extending him a broad smile and a handshake, his glistening white teeth and Hawaiian spray tan prompting Bernard to blink twice. He was flanked by a slim young woman in her mid-20s – actually, maybe late-20s, Bernard swiftly assessed – and a short, bald man with a close-clipped beard and a faintly smug smile.

Alan Jacobs was head of brand strategy at Deep Visioning – the most well-regarded branding agency in all of Sydney. Jacobs and the crew at Deep Visioning were responsible for some of the highest profile rebrands in both the corporate and FMCG space. Their strength was in story-telling: creating compelling brand propositions for ailing companies, enabling them to forge a powerful bond with their target market.

In recent times, Jacobs had turned the company’s attention to celebrities – “they’re brands, too!” he’d say – and encountered immediate success. In 2009, Deep Visioning won a prestigious industry award for rebranding  former Channel V and Australian Idol presenter, Andrew G, as Osher Günsberg, a committed vegan and host of Channel Seven’s hit show, The Bachelor. 

Following the Günsberg success, Deep Visioning had become the unofficial go-to branding agency for celebrities. But Deep Visioning had never taken on a client like Tomic, a prickly, controversial sports star, whose brand would require a complete overhaul. If the Australian public was ever to fall back in love with Bernard Tomic – just as they had with Andre G/Osher Günsberg – sweeping changes would be necessary. 

“Nice to meet you, Alan,” Bernard sheepishly answered, offering a limp, attitude-soaked handshake that, in itself, said everything.

“This is Ally, our account manager, and Brian, our head creative director. We’re really looking forward to working with you on this, Bernard. Let’s just head into our meeting room and get started, shall we?”

Bernard took a gulp of air, stuffed his hands into his pockets, and sauntered into the room.

Fuck me. I guess I’m actually going through with this.

By Dave Edwards

NEXT: Branding Bernie (Part Two)