Blog

Bubba’s Hover gives Oakley the lead in The Brand Masters

For golf fans, the onset of April is all about looking forward to The Masters, the year’s first Major and one of the jewels in the crown of global sport. That being the case, it’s also a key marketing moment for brands looking to leverage golf, which always sees a raft of campaigns unveiled. And first off the tee this year is Oakley, with a brilliant fusion of bravery, creativity and innovation, featuring reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson. The launch film – over 300,000 views in 24 hours at the time of writing – speaks for itself.

There are so many things I love about this idea and this film, but I’ll pick three in particular.

1. Its inspired use of endorsement. As Bubba is above all known for being unconventional, the endorsee and the creative idea fit perfectly – still a rarity in sports marketing and, at a time when the falls from grace of Tiger Woods and Oscar Pistorius among others are leading many to question the value of endorsement, a reminder that it’s still a very valuable asset in the sports marketing toolkit when you get it right.

(Related point. If Rory McIlroy was still an Oakley asset, I wonder whether they would have used him instead of Bubba.)

2. Its alignment with the Oakley brand. Oakley has a very strong point of view about innovation, which is absolutely key to its DNA and product portfolio. But on top of this, it also has a brand manifesto – ‘Beyond Reason’ – which it set out in a series of films launched last year, led by this.

Again, it’s a rarity in sports marketing to see brands committing so strongly to a point of view. More brands should do it, as a touchstone to guide everything they do. If Oakley hadn’t had ‘Beyond Reason’ as a framework for their thinking, I’d wager that making a call on Bubba’s Hover would have been a lot harder.

3. The film isn’t over-branded. Sure, there are some obligatory shots of the Oakley logo on the hovercraft, but overall the branding is subtle and lets the idea – and the Oakley point of view – speak for itself. Refreshing.

With brave content like this, the future is definitely sunny for Oakley…here’s hoping we see a few more bold brands making the cut this year.