Following the worst game of his life and a slip up in the Big Baller Brand shoes, Lonzo Ball was heavily critiqued on social media, most notably by WNBA star Elena Delle Donne.
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) July 8, 2017
After receiving heavy backlash for the tweet, Delle Donne responded with how she likes Lonzo and would never root against him, but she is not a fan of the shoes. Is Delle Donne right? Should Lonzo have just followed the path of previous prospects and signed with a major shoe company? In most cases I would say yes, but when your father is a marketing genius, the Big Baller Brand makes perfect sense.
The Dude can play
A night after his disappointing debut, Lonzo Ball showed Laker Nation why he was selected second overall. On Saturday night, in front of the first-ever sold out crowd in Las Vegas Summer League history, Ball messed around and got a triple double. Unfortunately, his 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists were not good enough for a Lakers win, as Boston picked up their second victory of the summer, winning 86-81.
Although Zo did not shoot particularly well, his flashy passes and playmaking abilities brought back memories of a young Magic Johnson. If you watched Saturday night’s contest, you realized a few things.
One, Lonzo Ball can play, and can dominate the game without scoring. Two, he is extremely entertaining to watch with his no-look passes and up-tempo style. Thirdly, the crowd went bananas whenever Lonzo did something even remotely cool with the ball.
Reminder: This was a game played on July 8, and means absolutely nothing, but fans still filled out the arena to see the face of BBB.
All in all, if you can play, and you’re on a big-market team like the Lakers, you will have no problem selling your own signature shoe. But why the high price?
There’s a reason for the $495 price tag on the ZO2’s
Right now, the five best-selling signature shoes are Lebron’s, Kyrie’s, Curry’s, KD’s and Harden’s. At retail price, none of these kicks costs more than $200, so why did the Ball family choose $495? One reason: You cannot go and get them in stores. Only a certain amount of ZO2’s were created. You cannot go into your local mall and grab a pair, which provides logic to the high price.
Some people might laugh at the lofty price, but for some reason, sneaker consumers are more attracted to the rarer, more expensive shoe. Marylouise Caldwell, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Sydney, explains that “People gravitate towards this kind of thing when they don’t have an affinity to more traditional tribes, such as professional groups, to give them status.” People become attached to a brand that is seen as high status throughout their peers.
Just take a look at outspoken music legend, and reality TV star, Kanye West. People line up for days to get their hands on Yeezy Boost 350’s. Like the ZO2’s, only a certain amount of Yeezy’s are made and released to the public. They will sell at stores for $260, and later on the internet for close to $2,000.
Why do people spend this type of money on shoes? To keep it simple, “It’s a way of proving they are a global citizen with their finger on the pulse”, Caldwell said. Because of its rareness, and meaning, people will flock to the ZO2’s, just like they do with the Yeezy’s. In fact, Kanye West and Lonzo’s father, LaVar, have more in common than you think.
LAVAR “THE GODFATHER OF BBB” BALL
The creator of Big Baller Brand, LaVar is arguably the most outspoken man in sports. Some may think he is absurd and disrespectful, mostly because he told FS1’s Kristine Leahy to “stay in yo lane” when she asked LaVar about shoe sales. But is there some weird intelligence behind this crazy man?
The more he talks, the more well-known he becomes. Love him or hate him, LaVar has gained insane popularity for himself, and his family, by talking crazy. All three of his sons (Lonzo, LiAngelo, LaMelo) have over one million followers on Instagram. LaVar was recently compared to the Kardashian’s after inking a reality TV show. You don’t just accidentally get compared to the most notable family in America. LaVar is playing all the pieces right, even from a business standpoint.
Using pre-orders to test the market is an intelligent strategy because it gives the brand a look at how many shoes they will need to produce, rather than committing to a high number to manufacture. Also, the shoes will not be available until around November. Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor at George Washington University, explains that “cutting pre-orders long before their November ship date allows the brand to control how much they must invest.”
All publicity is good publicity, and LaVar has made the most of the free marketing that he gets. He has given BBB an identity, which is crucial for a start-up company. You are not a big baller unless you rep the ZO2’s and BBB gear.
In a recent article with SLAM Online, LaVar took more of an inspirational approach to explaining the reasoning behind the BBB. He explained how the Ball family “just wants to inspire people and show them that there’s a different lane you can travel in. It’s OK to step out and do it another way. Only a select few will do it, but folks will start creating their own brands, like we’ve done with BBB, and more and more families will begin feeling comfortable with betting on themselves.”
LaVar and the Ball family are setting a precedent for upcoming prospects.
Of course, they have to “Ball”
The biggest factor in the company’s future, is Lonzo. If he plays well and makes the Lakers relevant again, the shoes will do great, and inspire upcoming athletes to go in their own direction.
The other two B’s, LiAngelo, and LaMelo Ball, are following in the footsteps of Lonzo. LiAngelo, who this past year led all of California in high school scoring, is headed off to UCLA as a three-star recruit. “Gelo” is seen as the least talented in the trio of brothers but you may have heard of some other three-star recruits like Paul George, Steph Curry, and 2016-17 NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook.
The youngest, LaMelo, is currently the No. 1 point guard for the class of 2019.
A lot of pieces have to fall in place, but one thing is for sure: The Ball’s are entertaining and have the attention of millions.
Anytime someone does something new, people tend to freak out and react in a negative way. They said flicking a switch to activate light was crazy. They said putting wheels on metal and flying it in the sky was crazy. They said random people picking you up and dropping you off at destinations was crazy.
Creating your own brand, along with a $495 signature shoe before stepping on the court might be crazy, but it might also represent the future of the shoe business.
Featured image by Big Baller Brand
“From our Haus to Yours”