Bubba Watson’s Hovercraft: Marketing Genius

I was at the driving range the other day and overheard two men talking about Bubba Watson’s new hovercraft golf cart. The one man was even quoting the video when talking specs and diminished effects of green damage due to the hover technology. You know you have a great idea when people actually believe it’s true. Unfortunately, these men did not read the fine print – a lesson I learned from Mr. Iorii in the 11th grade.

So, what does it take to create a sensational industry-wide buzz? Well, you need creativity, ingenuity, technology, a huge following, a name brand (or two), and perfect timing. Oakley, having teamed up with the advertising giant Thinkmodo, had all that and more when they released the video of Bubba Watson riding around on a golf course in his very own hovercraft golf cart. They even had him touting the benefits of this invention and how it alleviates some of the limitations provided by the “old fashioned” model. Taking the video into full blown believability mode, they recruited a scientist rattling off statistics as to pressure on the green and the technology behind it all.  It was very convincing, and Bubba plays his part well. If I didn't know any better, I would have believed it too!

Golf is such a time honored tradition. The Masters are coming up this week so the timing of launching this commercial featuring last year's winner riding around a golf course in a hovercraft was the perfect approach to generate a heap of buzz among links lovers! What makes this topic even more interesting is that Bubba seems to have a knack for generating his own type of buzz elevating him to almost celebrity status among golfers and non golfers alike. From music videos to amusing stunts, he does it all.  So, this newest golf cart, although most groundbreaking, is not surprising coming from this fun loving, “never had a lesson in my life” kind of guy. His ability to market himself, along with his national marketability, makes him very appealing to brands like Oakley. Bubba’s success seems to have a lot to do with his understanding of the times we are living in (apart from his “day job” of course). He's playing to the fact that times, they are-a-changing! There's no formula for a viral guarantee; but, if there was one… man, he and Oakley came close!

If you haven't seen the video, I strongly recommend checking it out, and the website Ad Age does a great job explaining the evolution of the project and how it came to be. All I know is, if we had Bubba, Oakley, and money to build a hovercraft… you bet your bottom dollar we would've signed up in a heartbeat!