Are you familiar with Itty Bitty Ballers? I think they’re hysterical. When I saw the tv commercial last month, I knew I had to have one! I immediately went to www.ittybittyballers.ca and – to my surprise, of the nine original figurines, six were sold out! But what is the story behind this viral internet success? GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to empowering small, independent business ventures, has just closed out their Itty Bitty Ballers campaign featuring Toronto Raptors center, “big man” Jonas Valančiūnas (JV). The campaign was focused around JV’s mythical business, www.ittybittyballers.ca. The site displays his nine lifelike figurines that capture him in action poses, such as riding a Raptor, dabbing, and giving high fives. GoDaddy positioned our 7’0 centre as spending his spare time creating these miniature works of art. This juxtaposition was amusing and intriguing enough to drive customers to want to adopt the itty bitty JV’s as their own. Two of the nine figurines sold out the day the campaign launched, and then once the campaign went viral on social media, the remainder sold out in less than 24 hours. From the outset, the advertising campaign (seen both on tv and online) seems comical, but through their product promotion, the team at GoDaddy managed to virally promote the ease of their solutions while supporting a small local business… all through the power of one itty bitty baller.
Armed with only GoDaddy’s professional tools, JV was able to demonstrate just how easy it is to engage with their platform. Having created the site himself, GoDaddy was able to make a pitch to small businesses by demonstrating ease of use and accessibility to all. The prime target for this campaign is small business owners who would benefit from GoDaddy’s hosting, much like JV did. Jill Schoolenberg, Vice President and Country Manager of GoDaddy Canada, states “We’re always looking for ways to help small businesses get online and be successful. That’s why we’re excited to partner with a basketball icon like Jonas Valančiūnas to help create this beautiful new website and bring awareness to the opportunities of small business ownership in Canada.” To further support Canadian small business, GoDaddy and JV also ran the “Itty Bitty Ballers Contest for Small Businesses.” The contest, which closed February 20 2017 encouraged Canadian entrepreneurs to share where their business’ inspiration came from with prizing of up to $5,000 in cash and $2,500 in GoDaddy services.
Let’s not forget that behind the big man, the fantastic ads, and the lovely website are itty bitty figurines that were created by Toronto startup Selftraits. Selftraits is a loyal GoDaddy customer and when tapped to create the itty bitty ballers, they stepped up to the challenge. Featuring Selftrait’s products lends further credibility to GoDaddy’s passion for Canadian small businesses. The fact that another run will need to be made for the figurines speaks highly to their popularity. And even more importantly, all revenue from all itty bitty ballers sold are going to the MLSE Foundation, which believes all kids should have access to sport and the opportunity to both develop and pursue lasting dreams on the playing field. With the support of MLSE’s teams, the Foundation supports sport, education and research for social change. So not only do consumers get a collectible, local youth are also benefiting from every purchase.
Lessons for Others
So what are the big lessons we can all learn from the Itty Bitty Ballers campaign?
Don’t succumb to the trappings of conventional advertising. GoDaddy’s commercials have courted controversy over the years, yet they continue to perform steadily. “GoDaddy’s full year 2016 results were strong on all fronts, with revenue up 15% to $1.8 billion and exceptional cash flow… Looking to 2017 … we expect revenue growth in the range of 18-20%, and cash flow growth of more than 30%. Our ability to serve our growing base of 14.7 million global customers with new tools and services continues to drive steady and sustainable growth now and into the future,” said Blake Irving, Chief Executive Officer. GoDaddy continues to boldly present their services in a way that is designed to attract attention and generate conversation.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. JV put himself in a position where he is seen as a creative type, and this is a persona that is in opposition to what fans see on the court. When asked about how his colleagues reacted to the commercial, JV shared in an interview with SportsNet’s Donnovan Bennett, “Oh, they are making fun of me now (laughs). I gave each person a reason to make fun of me. They are asking me if I’m really making that at home and if I’m really into arts. They are just killing me making fun of me”.
And don’t forget that at the heart of a successful product is quality. The commercial was so believable that JV had to clarify that he was not the one creating the Itty Bitty Ballers in his workshop. He laughs, “They ask if I’m doing all of this stuff on my own… That means we did a great job, right. That was a great commercial. That’s why we get such big engagement”. The popularity of the figurines is such that you can now put your name on a wait list, to be notified when there will be more figurines for purchase. And having the proceeds go to such a worthy cause as the MLSE Foundation is all the more reason to purchase.
So if you are looking for more engagement with your product, be unconventional. Be bold. Create something that people will crave. And don’t forget to use the power of social media to transform itty bitty engagement into the next big thing.
Name of Organization Contact: Jill Schoolenberg
Authored by: Donna Alexander
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(n.d.). Itty bitty ballers. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.ittybittyballers.ca/
(2017, January 3). News Releases. GoDaddy brings on a big man to help Canadian small businesses, signs Toronto Raptors’ Jonas Valančiūnas to partnership. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/godaddy-brings-on-a-big-man-to-help-canadian-small-businesses-signs-toronto-raptors-jonas-valaninas-to-partnership-609484015.html
Burt, C. (2017, January 3). Whir Hosting Cloud. GoDaddy Teams with Toronto Raptors Big Man to Reach Small Businesses. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.thewhir.com/web-hosting-news/godaddy-teams-with-toronto-raptors-big-man-to-reach-small-businesses
(2017, February 15). About Us – GoDaddy. GoDaddy Reports Strong Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2016 Results. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from https://aboutus.godaddy.net/newsroom/news-releases/news-releases-details/2017/GoDaddy-Reports-Strong-Fourth-Quarter-And-Full-Year-2016-Results/default.aspx
Bennett, D. (2017, January 13). Sportsnet | NBA. Q&A: Valanciunas reveals secret behind ‘Itty Bitty Ballers’. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/qa-valanciunas-reveals-secret-behind-itty-bitty-ballers/