LaVar Ball-Donald Trump Feud Generates Estimated $13.2M in Free Advertising

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2017

FILE - In this June 23, 2017, file photo, LaVar Ball, right, father of Los Angeles Lakers draft pick Lonzo Ball, listens to his son during the NBA basketball team's news conference in El Segundo, Calif. Ball questioned the extent of President Donald Trump’s involvement in securing his son’s release from the custody of Chinese authorities during a combative 20-minute CNN interview on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

President Donald Trump reportedly provided a whirlwind of free advertising for LaVar Ball in their back-and-forth feud.

On Thursday, Darren Rovell of ESPN cited Apex Marketing Group, which noted that Big Baller Brand has received an estimated $13.2 million in advertisement as Trump and Ball exchanged barbs in recent days.  

According to Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports, Apex Marketing Group calculated the estimate by tracking the number of references to Big Baller Brand in the media compared to normal advertisement rates.  

"This back and forth with Donald Trump has extended the brand awareness outside of just sports," Apex Marketing Group president Eric Smallwood said, per Eisenberg. "People who don't follow sports are starting to get more awareness of the brand. To have that reaction from someone as high up as Trump, it has definitely helped [Ball] reach a larger audience."

Things escalated between the two Friday when Ball didn't personally thank Trump for helping three UCLA basketball players, including his son, LiAngelo Ball, back into the country after they shoplifted in China.

"Who?" Ball asked ESPN.com's Arash Markazi. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

Ball wasn't done, appearing on CNN and discussing Trump with Chris Cuomo.

He refused to offer thanks during the interview either:


LaVar Ball, the father of a basketball player freed from China who also recently ran afoul of President Trump on Twitter, talks with @ChrisCuomo: "I don't have to go around saying thank you to everybody" https://t.co/Y1HRSycqyD https://t.co/a7in4bLogG

Naturally, Trump took to Twitter and aimed a number of critical barbs at the patriarch of the Big Baller Brand:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

...LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!

Eisenberg discussed the potential next step for Ball—after all the advertising—with Bob Dorfman, executive director of Baker Street Advertising. Dorfman believes he should lower the price on the $495 pair of signature shoes for Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and also position the brand as an anti-Trump one. 


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