Lavar Ball is winning. It’s remarkable to understand exactly how. And once you understand, you’ll notice how he rose to stardom for himself and his sons the same way Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, Kylie Jenner, and plenty of other branding geniuses have done before. It may sound weird to relate a president, a provocative journalist, a teen media personality, and a father of 3 basketball players altogether, but the similarities might surprise you.
By now all of us, die hard basketball fans and casual fans alike, know the Ball boys. The three young brothers and their dad, the latter seems to be the real child of the family. Lonzo, the oldest son, declared for the NBA draft, and will become a professional team member later this year. His signature basketball shoes were announced, and the general consensus was they fit better in a trash can than on feet. They are basic and independently labeled. No Nike. No Air Jordan. No Adidas. No Reebok. No Puma. Hell, not even New Balance. The family formed their own brand, “Big Baller Brand” (notice the first B has a subliminal 3 in reference to 3 brothers) and priced their shoes, the ZO2, at $495. Insane, or insanely genius?
Here’s the thing, the Ball father knows the importance of branding. More than anything, we like brands. They give us something with which to identify. There are a million coffee houses, but we like the one that’s branded as the cool, hip, open minded coffee shop. Brands are representative of values and consistent behavior that we like to associate with. Like how Milo has an offensively humorous and provocative brand, Trump has a tough guy, always winning, “take em for all their worth” brand, and Kylie has a cute and confident brand. The best brands are always developing and promoting themselves. Even when you scratch you head wondering why a brand would make such an overboard comment or statement. This was evident when Lavar said he would “kill” Michael Jordan in a game of 1 on 1. It’s like Trump when claimed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the founders of ISIS, and Milo claiming feminism is toxic. It’s all strategized. It’s like me promoting my free thinking, progressive minded, youth centered brand by saying, “Old people suck, hurry up and die so we young people can finally take this country and the world forward!” Similar to when Lavar basically said his son is better than NBA superstar Steph Curry. Do Lavar, Trump, and Milo truly mean what they say? Of course not. Unless they’re totally delusional. But they’re not, they’re marketing geniuses who are only developing and promoting their brand. What’s the Ball boys’ brand? Confidence. And a hell of a lot of it.
Ever since he realized his sons had superstar potential, Lavar Ball started marketing the crap out of them. We all know that the biggest sales come from the best marketing. And the best marketing revolves around the best brands. Therefore, Lavar set out to establish a brand and market it. Marketing requires attention. That’s why Lavar has spent so much time appearing on Tv, making a name for himself and his sons, developing and promoting their logo, and acting out his outlandish characteristics. Why?
Because we like characters. And the best Tv and media personalities are always playing a character. Think Stephen A Smith is so animated when the cameras are off? No, and not Lavar Ball either. But he knows how to work the spotlight and get the attention on him. He’s gone viral. He’s gone mainstream. HE’S BEEN MEMED! That’s a marketing win.
The Ball family brand will only gain power. It starts with the first son, gets carried on by the next two, and the father himself. And it doesn’t stop there. They will likely sign more athletes and grow like any other brand. And the marketing has been going on for a while.
Marketing can make a brand look and feel better than it really is. Here’s the deal, Lavar knows his sons are not amazingly talented ballers. He knows his boys probably won’t get drafted very highly. He knows his sons probably don’t have the talent to make a big splash in the NBA pool. But he also knows this. Marketing often beats talent. Typically, you have to prove your talent before you start mass marketing. Not with Lavar. He has flipped this strategy on its head. He is focused on heavy marketing and hoping the hype actually overpowers the lack of talent. He’s turning his sons into the Kylie Jenners of basketball. Think about it. Personal brand, more marketing, less talent, sell lots of products, the similarities are clear.
Obviously Lavar is thinking ahead, and wants to solidify his boys’ legacy before it even begins. How can they have a legacy without a signature shoe? But no one expected their shoes to cost the $495 that the Ball daddy slapped on the price tag. But remember, he’s a marketing genius who thinks well into the future.
Here’s my prediction. Lavar knows we often associate high value with high cost. If his shoes cost $495, maybe he’s trying to trick us into believing they’re worth $495. Or maybe the $495 price tag is a marketing tactic. He just wants people talking about how expensive they are to get the media to spread the word of their existence. Just watch, when his son gets drafted, the price will most definitely drop. They will be priced around $250 and the price, while still high, will seem low by comparison. And throughout the boys’ careers, their father will continue his effective and provocative marketing. We’ll check back later to see exactly how correct I was, if at all. If you’re a marketing genius or a savvy consumer, what do you think?