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The Business Of Sports: Basketball Wives the movie is a lesson in marketing

The Business Of Sports: Basketball Wives the movie is a lesson in marketing

When you think of Basketball Wives, what comes to mind? You’re probably thinking of violent, self-absorbed, narcissistic  women with a false sense of reality who represent all the negative stereotypes women have fought for decades to erase. Now, can you imagine that being brought to the silver screen?

Well, it’s coming!

When it was confirmed that Basketball Wives, the movie, will go into production, the news was received with shock, even harsher criticism and outrage. However, in an interview with Vibe magazine, the reality show creator, Shaunie O’Neal–ex-wife of basketball player Shaquille O’Neal said that the movie will be nothing like the much criticized reality show. In fact, she used the word “uplifting” to describe the movie.


While the movie may in fact be a story line that’s uplifting, it will be hard for the movie to get public support. Basketball Wives has branded itself as a show that is void of women with class, self-control or any  meaningful or inspiring lives. They are the live examples of what women hope their daughters aren’t becoming. While the attempt at an uplifting movie about women living in the pro-sports world is good, marketing, in this case is the critical element to making the movie a success. Basketball Wives is no more synonymous with anything “uplifting” anymore than Nike is synonymous with heart medicine. To treat it as such speaks to a misunderstanding about branding and the powerful effects of brand messaging.

Branding failure

Branding failure

Shaunie O’Neal and co-producer, Tracey Edmonds may need a lesson in marketing. Once a product is branded, and the messaging is consistent, consumers believe it. They take it as the truth of the brand and buy into that brand’s message. Good marketing takes a brand from words to a sharp visual in the minds of consumers with expectations about the brand experience. Think about Coca-Cola or BMW. What comes to mind? What do you expect when you consume those products? The marketing successes of these brands have created a clear, complete picture in your mind about those products–even if you’ve never had them!

Now, imagine if Coca-Cola wanted to become an apparel company or if BMW decided to become a cosmetics brand. While these companies could do it, it would fail. They have set a precedent that they are a beverage and luxury automotive company, respectively, and no amount of marketing will change that. Taking a harsh turn doesn’t sit well with consumers. It becomes confusing, and is often met with criticism.

Unfortunately, Basketball Wives has left a bad taste in the mouths of consumers, and the best way to clear the palate is not to keep shoving it down our throats.

In this case, it may be best to change the meal.

Or in this case, change the name. 

What do you think?

Your Jersey Girlfriend,

~Angela Davis

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