Maybe this is the warped moment in time when LaVar Ball really should be offering a Thanksgiving Day shout-out to Donald Trump.
Thanks to the President of the United States keeping the Big Baller Brand on the radar for his 43 million Twitter followers over the last few days, including two more missives Wednesday morning, a whole new demographic of holiday shoppers might not even be aware of their sneaker options.
Now sneaky is that?
What’s rich is this provoked but unsolicited promotion all comes free. As free as Ball’s son, UCLA freshman LiAngelo, and two teammates appear to be from spending any time in the Chinese penal system.
Whatever side one may pick, there doesn’t appear to be any visible collateral damage to the Big Baller Brand. If anything, thanks to the Trump Bump, no matter how he slings his poisoned arrows, this exposure could provide some short-term benefits to some degree.
“It is funny to think ‘poor LaVar’ in this sense, but what Trump is doing here is not a bad thing for him; it doesn’t hurt to have Trump against you,” said Dr. Daniel Durbin, head of the USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media & Society School for Communication and Journalism who specializes in branding, popular culture, rhetoric and sports.
“Keeping the Ball brand in the news creates a level of tension that definitely does not hurt them. But there are several audiences in play here. If one particular group now decides that the Balls must be good if Trump says they’re bad, it feeds into image management and brings more positive emotional identification, which is often more important than rational identification,”
When LaVar Ball launched his Big Baller Brand a year ago, Trump was not yet in office. Ball’s aim was to capitalize on the future earnings of his three basketball-playing sons, but also sell the idea that the Ball brand was robust from the start. It was also a crack against the bow of corporate America, a consciously rebellious move against the athletic shoe and apparel monopoly that Nike, Under Armor and others represented.
“And who might represent corporate America better than Trump?” Durbin pointed out.
That could have been enough to place the volume-challenged Ball and ego-sensitive Trump on opposite sides of any sort of allegiances.
But the last few days of a bluster over how each of them perceive the resolution of a recent incident in China involving Ball’s son, UCLA freshman LiAngelo, who was accused with two teammates of…