The only bad publicity is your own obituary. Thanks to his relationships with Facebook, the National Basketball Association, and ESPN, LaVar Ball has proven he is a marketing genius.
You don’t have to like the eldest Ball or any of his baller sons, but he is adept at creating opportunities that create wins for himself, his sons, the brands they work with, and the brand he created, Big Baller Brand (BBB).
LaVar isn’t the typical helicopter dad; if his kids sucked at basketball, there would be no BBB and no one would care. A former pro athlete, LaVar developed his children into superior athletes.
Maybe it was a plan like the one Venus and Serena’s dad, Richard, had in mind when he penned a manifesto/gameplan of how he was going to build his daughters into tennis champions – two years before they were born. Or maybe LaVar developed it on the fly. But it is evident that he knows how to work the angles. He’s successful because he creates win-win situations for everyone he works with.
How amazing is it that his last name is Ball and his kids are great at basketball? How many columns written by unscrupulous sports writers have penned a missive titled “Ball In The Family”? Facebook couldn’t help itself and is the sole provider of “Ball In The Family” a reality web television series that airs on Facebook Watch every Sunday. Content producers need original content more than ever (see Netflix, Amazon, etc.) particularly content geared towards Millennials.
At the root of the business opportunities he’s created is tremendous marketing and self-promotion to a “me first” generation that created the selfie. And, the ability to get his message broadcast amongst all available marketing channels. It s a cool study of how branding works.
Whether it is challenging Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one, or creating the Big Baller Brand clothing line which offers basketball shoes that retail for over $300 a pair, or making inflammatory comments about how poor the coaching is for teams his sons play for, the Las Angeles Lakers or UCLA Bruins, he stays in the headlines on all channels – sports radio, social media, quick video for sports websites – you don’t even need to be a basketball fan to know who LaVar is at this point! And his content producer partners LOVE him for it. LaVar Ball was made for the 24 hour news cycle.
Last week, LaVar and Big Baller Brand announced that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball would be making their debuts for the Lithuanian Basketball Club Prienu Vytautas in the Big Baller Brand Challenge. This was announced after 18-year-old LiAngelo quit both school and the basketball team at UCLA and 16-year-old LaMelo dropped out of high school. Which actually strengthens the BBB brand because LaVar and sons can immediately do things for profit. “LaVar and Sons” should’ve been the name of the Facebook show, and used the “Sanford and Son” intro, come to think of it. That would’ve been BA (“Bad Ass.” All the Millennials are saying it again).
The BBB challenge is a series of five friendly matchups between Prienu Vytautas and teams from across Lithuania. LaVar partnered with Facebook, which allows the Ball brothers’ games to be broadcast through Facebook live. Prienu Vytautas expects the Ball brothers to generate about 100,000 euros ($120,000) in revenue for the team, including an undisclosed amount that Facebook is paying to show the Big Baller Brand Challenge games.
The court is covered with BBB branding:
The officials wear the BBB logo on their backs. 1.6 million people watched the inaugural game through Facebook. And the kids played well.
It’s a win for Prienu Vytautas, a win for Facebook, a win for ESPN (who had exclusive coverage rights and broke the story), a win for BBB, a win for the Ball brothers who get to do what they love in front of a huge audience. And ultimately a win for LaVar.
The coolest thing about LaVar is that he has done it himself and utilized every media tool at his disposal. He has proven that he doesn’t need a marketing agency to market his product (his sons’ basketball ability and his brand BBB), or an agent to grease the wheels with content outlets to garner earned media coverage.
LaVar has constructed a multi-million dollar business on the strength of his personality, intelligence, charisma, and sons’ ability. He doesn’t owe anybody a cut of any of the action he creates. LaVar Ball has built an infrastructure and a living brand.
LaVar Ball is a marketing genius.