The Penguins won their second straight Stanley Cup, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first ever Super Bowl, and LaVar Ball consistently made national headlines with his larger-than-life persona. That’s how I would wrap up the past 365 days or so in the sports world. I could go on and on about how impressive it is to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, and we could dissect the “Philly Special” all day long, but for the purpose of this “marketing blog”, I’m going to write about LaVar Ball and his marketing bravado.
I’ve appointed the term bravado to LaVar’s character because I think it adequately sums up his public persona. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bravado as “blustering swaggering conduct”, and “the quality or state of being foolhardy”. Swaggering and foolhardy – think of two words that better describe LaVar Ball, I’ll wait. Although controversial and borderline notorious, LaVar Ball’s swaggering and foolhardy character has proven to be a powerful force in the marketing of his own shoe company Big Baller Brand, but most importantly, in the marketing and branding of himself and his 3 sons Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo.
Let’s start with his shoe company Big Baller Brand. Big Baller Brand? I mean, come on. Like, I’m not making this up. He started a shoe company and called it BIG BALLER BRAND. If anybody else in this world made a shoe company called Big Baller Brand, I can guarantee that the shoes would never even make it into production. But somehow, someway, Big Baller Brand has grown into a household name in the sports industry (so be it for reasons other than massive orders and sales).
So, if someone started a shoe company that isn’t completing large-scale orders and raking in massive profits, how could we consider him or her a marketing genius? Well, the LaVar Ball saga is a bit of an anomaly, to say the least. If you know anything about the Ball family, you know that LaVar’s 3 sons are basketball stars with the potential to be staples in the NBA (Lonzo, the oldest, currently plays for the Lakers). If you ask me, the Big Baller Brand venture has been a marketing play by LaVar to keep his name, and more importantly, the name of his 3 sons in the heads of basketball fans, the media, and basketball executives.
He’s made himself and his 3 sons into influencer marketing powerhouses, and anyone who works in marketing will tell you that influencer marketing has become one of the most prevalent and powerful methods of branding and advertising. By garnering so much media attention, LaVar Ball has almost single-handedly built a platform for him and his 3 boys to profit from.
To keep it simple and brief, we’ll look to the hub of “influencer marketing” – Instagram.
I don’t care how much you dislike the Ball family, those numbers are straight up impressive. And those insta-handles are straight fire! 🔥
But what does any of this have to do with Big Baller Brand, and how does this make LaVar a marketing genius? Like I said, today’s society is all about influencer marketing. With social media, there is no need to sign your life away to some corporate contract in order to market yourself. Social media influencers are taking over the marketing world, and the Ball boys are on the frontline.
We’re all a part of the social media influencer dynamic, whether we know it or not. Hell, you can probably find someone that you went to high school with who is now a “public figure” on Instagram who endorses makeup products or sports equipment. It’s commonplace, but it’s effective. It’s no different than when Jimmy Page played his Les Paul and every wannabe rockstar had to have one, but instead, social media influencers aren’t tied down by corporate contracts and they now have the ability to leverage their own following, as opposed to needing corporate connections to be featured in the media. Social influencers are the media and their messages are consumed daily by millions.
Without LaVar’s over-the-top way of life, his three sons would not be in the position that they are in today. A position that sets them up with the potential to cash in on their massive followings, which they have already begun doing. So, when people call LaVar an overbearing and over-zealous has been, I call him a marketing genius!