Tuesday 19 November 2019

Blue riband Bernard: the six-figure amateur who knows his own worth

Man in demand: Bernard Brogan, with a Volkswagen in the background, for which he is a brand ambassador.
Man in demand: Bernard Brogan, with a Volkswagen in the background, for which he is a brand ambassador.

He may not have made his Championship debut until the comparatively late age of 23, but Bernard Brogan wasted little time in becoming the GAA's most in-demand and best-paid star.

"I don't think it's outside the bounds of possibility that he might make €100,000 in sponsorship in a good year," says a sports agent who has worked with the Dublin footballer. "When you compare that sort of money to what the rugby guys can command, for instance, it pales, but it's impressive when you consider that he plays an amateur sport that has resisted play-for-pay for years."

"He's got it all," says Eoin Conroy of Titan Marketing.

"He's very well known nationwide, not just in GAA circles, he's highly articulate and very presentable and he's got a strong social media presence." (Brogan has 80,000 followers on Twitter - more than any other GAA figure.)

"He's successful, too, of course," Conroy adds.

"Two All-Ireland medals, loads of All-Star awards, Footballer of the Year some years ago…" Brogan runs the sports agency Legacy Consultants with his cousin James Brogan and is acutely aware of his own brand value. The Gaelic Players Association called for players' names to appear on the backs of jerseys this week, but Brogan has been pushing for this initiative for years.

SuperValu and Volkswagen are among the many brands that the 31-year-old, an accountant by profession, has cultivated over the years.

SuperValu marketing manager Des O'Mahony says Brogan ticks all the boxes: "He's a great fit for us. Not only is he a national sports icon who is a winner on the pitch and plays a sport that reaches every community in Ireland, but he transcends the world of sport too and his name means something even to those with no interest in sport.

"He's very engaging on the subject of nutrition and healthy eating which, of course, is something that SuperValu is all about.

"Bernard's mother, Maria, also took part in our 'Good Food Karma' campaign and he was joking that she will have a higher profile than him because of it."

Not only is Brogan comfortable with engaging with sports writers (albeit on the condition, sometimes imposed by the sponsor, that the brand is mentioned in the article), he's just as comfortable shooting the breeze with lifestyle journalists.

In a recent article, one of them noted: "And then there's the fact that he's the level of good-looking that you don't want to look directly at lest you blush or giggle involuntarily - especially not when his mother is watching on."

That "level of good-looking", coupled with a sartorial elegance to leave even Kerry's returning fashionista Paul Galvin in the shade, does his marketability no harm it all, it seems.

An All-Ireland win for Dublin and Brogan in September will ensure his number-one status is unassailable for the foreseeable future.

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