Big Wave Surfer Kelly Slater Joins Kona Brewing for the Brand’s Longest-Running Campaign

The champion athlete joins the brewer's ad spots and environmental conservation effort ahead of the Olympics

Kona Brewing Co.'s "Dear Mainland" campaign continues with champion surfer Kelly Slater seven years its debut.
Kona Brewing Co./Duncan Channon

Surf legend Kelly Slater joins Kona Brewing Company for a continuation of the brewer’s largest ad campaign, “Dear Mainland.” The athlete appears in three TV ads centering the pairing of Kona’s beer with surfing and a day at the beach.

The short, sunny spots— titled “Surf Lesson,” “Board Meeting” and “Great Day”—show Slater by the ocean sharing beers with Kona’s beloved “Bruddahs,” two actors who embody the spirit of the brand, with playful banter and shared island wisdom. The term “big waves” plays a part throughout the ads, whether it refers to Kona’s beer of the same name or the actual ocean.

The spots premiered this month, in anticipation of the 2021 Summer Olympics, where skateboarding and surfing are making their debut appearances. For Parker Channon, creative director at Kona’s agency of record, Duncan Channon, the timing was ideal. “With surfing in the games for the first time and the chance to work with arguably the greatest surfer ever, we couldn’t resist,” Channon said in a statement. “It certainly didn’t hurt that Kelly spends most of his time on the islands and, despite all his high-performance heroics, is a seriously low-key dude.”

Cindy Wang, senior director of brand marketing, added in a statement, “We see tremendous potential for the new work and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater to help attract new beer drinkers to enjoy Kona on the beach, or after a long day.”

“Dear Mainland,” which launched in 2014, represents the largest investment in new creative and media spend in the brand’s history—a 66% increase in three years. Kona Brewing Co. will also be launching a Big Waves for the World program this summer to bring awareness to ocean conservation.

The Slater-starring ads will run across broadcast television, digital, social media and radio. Additionally, the brand will make a $50,000 donation to the Save the Waves Coalition, an organization dedicated to conserving surf ecosystems and beach clean-up.

Kona Brewing Co./Duncan Channon
Kona Brewing Co./Duncan Channon
Kona Brewing Co./Duncan Channon


Client: Kona Brewing Co.

Ken Kunze – Vice President of Marketing

Cindy Wang – Senior Director of Marketing

Vanessa Parker – Brand Manager

Brooke Schwab – Associate Brand Manager

Ashley Picerno – Senior Brand Manager

Ashlee Conrad – National Partnership and Activation Manager


Creative Agency: Duncan Channon


Parker Channon – Partner & Executive creative director

Adam Zash – ACD, art director

Andy Whalen – ACD, copywriter


Nick Gustafson – Account director

Sydney McComas – Account supervisor

Erica Afanador – Account manager


Keenan Hemje – Senior broadcast producer

Emily Sarale – Integrated producer

Michelle Mirasol – Senior project manager


Kelleen Peckham – Strategy director

Jonah Kaufman – Brand strategist


Production partners

Production: O positive 

Director – Brian Billow

Executive Producers – Ralph Laucella, Marc Grill

1st AD – Grayson Bithell

DP – Adam Richards

Editorial: The Den editorial

Editor – Christjan Jordan & Katie Cali

Assistant Editor –  EmaLee Arroyo

Producer – Yole Barrera

EP – Ryan Curtis

Finishing – Gabe Sanchez

Colorist : CO3 

Dave Hussey – Senior colorist 


Brutus La Benz and Kanoa Kukaua

Audio Mix House: One Union Recording

Senior Engineer – Joaby Deal

Assistant Engineer – Michael Swarce

Executive Producer – Jaylen Block-Smith

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