SBD/June 15, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Show Me The Funny: Lonzo Ball's Foot Locker Ad Getting Mostly Positive Reaction

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Foot Locker's new ad that features top NBA Draft prospect Lonzo Ball making light of some of his father's comments is getting a positive reaction on the sports talk TV shows, with ESPN's Mike Greenberg saying it "softens almost everything" about LaVar Ball. Greenberg said, "It is genius on the part of Lonzo. ... It was a brilliant strategy." He added, "It sort of feels like they're winking back at you. 'All this craziness? Yeah, it's kind of a joke, we're in on it'" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 6/15). FS1's Skip Bayless noted he "loved" the ad, saying, "I got to see Lonzo Ball make fun of his father and he did it dead-pan funny. He came out of his shell, and he showed personality and charisma that I knew was in there somewhere.” FS1's Shannon Sharpe said, "We saw more personality in one minute than we've seen all year. ... I love seeing this side of Lonzo." Sharpe added Lonzo likely had to "run this by his father." Sharpe: "He probably called his dad and said, ‘Dad, they want me to do a commercial, what you think?’ (LaVar) was like, ‘Boy, you getting paid? Do the commercial.’ You know LaVar is about that dollar" ("Undisputed,” FS1, 6/15). ESPN's Max Kellerman: "They executed the hell out of this one. ... It's perfect." He added it shows a "level of self-awareness with the Ball family, which is important to take the edge off the kind of obnoxiousness some people feel about it" ("First Take," ESPN, 6/15).

COMING FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith had a different reaction to the ad, saying it did not depict LaVar Ball "in the greatest light." Smith said, "I know plenty of black fathers out there who are damn good men. ... I also know that that's not the narrative that has been put out there about black men. ... One of the things that we don't take into consideration, because we pay so much attention to the obnoxiousness of a LaVar Ball, we don't take time to step back and say he's a good man. ... When you see this commercial, you might have some who find themselves looking at what Lonzo pointed out as opposed to looking at the overall goodness of this man as a father” (“First Take,” ESPN, 6/15).
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