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April 05, 2013

Video: Matt Lauer, Al Roker borrow Bubba Watson's hovercraft

Posted at 2:56 PM by Mike Walker | Categories: Bubba Watson, hovercraft

Need to take your mind off your morning show’s falling ratings and rumors that’s Anderson Cooper is interested in your job? Try the hovercraft golf cart.

Earlier this week, we saw Bubba Watson drive a customized hovercraft on a golf course in an Oakley promotional video. On Friday’s "Today Show," we got to see Matt Lauer and Al Roker try it out at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Here’s the clip:

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According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Oakley created the hovercraft golf cart for the video, which they hoped would go viral. (Mission accomplished.)

When Oakley signed Watson to a sponsorship deal at the beginning of this year, says Nathan Strange, the company’s head of global marketing for golf, they immediately set about coming up with ideas for a marketing stunt. “I knew I wanted to do a viral video,” says Strange. “We brainstormed a bunch of ideas, and we ended up with creating the world’s first golf cart hovercraft.” Watson approved. “Bubba was out of his mind,” Strange says. “This is the kind of stuff he loves.” From there, things moved fast. Because of Watson’s tournament schedule, Oakley had only a couple weeks to find a hovercraft maker, build a prototype, and shoot the video. Strange turned to Neoteric Hovercraft in Terre Haute, Ind. The company quickly modified one its base models for duty on the links. And Watson set aside a day in January to cruise around at the Raven club near his home. “He was like a kid getting his first toy,” says Strange.

Oakley certainly got the attention it coveted. Now it has to decide if it really wants to get into the hovercraft business. “To be honest, we haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it,” says Strange. “We specialize in eyewear and apparel and footwear, so it’s not really our core competency.” Still, Oakley may yet partner with Neoteric if the demand is strong enough. Bubba’s hover was built from a model that goes for $16,000 to $20,000. After the video went up, Strange says, Neoteric got a call from a man in Australia who wanted 100.

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