Kona Brewing’s ‘Bruddahs’ Make First National TV Campaign

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PC: Courtesy photo of Brutus and Bell airing March 21, 2019 on March Madness 2019 Telecast

During the March Madness 2019 Telecast, Hawai‘i ’s very own craft beer, Kona Brewing Company, will share the spirit of aloha.

Whether it’s enjoying a little vacation in every sip, rethinking your to-do list, or disconnecting for a few moments, Kona Brewing Company’s beloved “Bruddahs” will show you the way in three new national TV ads launching during March Madness 2019.

For Kona Brewing Co.’s first-ever national TV campaign, the “Bruddahs”—Hawai‘i’s own David Bell and Blake “Brutus” LaBenz return to the screen and poke a little fun at today’s always-connected consumer with some island and Kona inspired solutions to bring a little more aloha into our everyday lives. The three new 30-second ads will air throughout the NCAA’s March Madness tournament on national TV and on local TV in select markets, with the first national spot running March 21, 2019.

The new national TV campaign follows a year where Kona Brewing Co. grew volume by 8%, led by flagship Big Wave Golden Ale, which increased sales to retailers by 26% in 2018. Kona Brewing Co. is the number one craft beer brand in Hawaii and a top 10 craft brand nationally. Since introducing fans to the Kona “Bruddahs” in 2014, Kona Brewing Co. has grown over 125,000 barrels.


Transporting viewers and fans to the lush tropical beaches of Hawai‘i, where Kona Brewing Co. was born 25 years ago, each ad opens with the “Bruddahs” holding a ʻukulele in one hand and a refreshing Kona beer in the other. Together, the laid-back duo invite viewers into their paradise for a few moments and serve up their island-inspired tips to live life more fully and connect with what matters most.

Dubbed “Little Vacation,” “To-Don’t List” and “Kona Mode,” the three new TV ads share the spirit of aloha in Kona Brewing Co.’s unique voice. When tested by Ace Metrix, all three ads scored well above the average beer ad score over the past year, and “Little Vacation” tied as the best-scoring beer ad of the last 90 days and scored in the Top 5 of all beer ads in the past year.

“Since introducing the Kona “Bruddahs” to audiences in 2014, we have been delighted by the immense positive response to their humorous and authentic way of sharing Kona’s message to connect with what matters most,” said Cindy Wang, senior brand director of Kona Brewing Company. “Over the past five years, David and Brutus have become part of the Kona family, with their ‘One life, right?’ message reflecting the culture and spirit of aloha in Hawai‘i. As we’ve grown, they’ve grown in popularity, and we’re so excited to share this fresh batch of “Bruddahs” wisdom with our first-ever national TV campaign.”

Created by Duncan Channon, a two-time Ad Age Small Agency of the Year in the West, the new multi-million-dollar campaign was shot entirely in Hawai‘i, working with an all-local cast and many local businesses. The campaign is comprised of three components that span broadcast and digital media. Fans can catch the national broadcast spots during Round 1 and Elite 8 games on CBS and TBS, with more than 600 additional local TV spots airing throughout the tournament in select markets across the U.S. The campaign also includes a national digital presence, running on the Bleacher Report, the number one sports brand on social media, with a homepage takeover, dedicated skin, banners, and video content. Additionally, the campaign will air during live in-game streaming on March Madness Live. Through these integrated initiatives, Kona Brewing Company will reach more consumers than ever during one of the most visible and talked about national sporting events of the year.


“We live in a world where the demands and distractions can feel endless, so we can all use a friendly nudge to stop and enjoy the good stuff,” said Parker Channon, creative director for the campaign.

Duncan Channon added, “And who better to give us permission to enjoy that stuff than a couple local brothers dispensing island wisdom. After four years on the coasts, we couldn’t be more excited to bring this campaign to the national stage for March Madness.”

“Wow, do I feel blessed to be a part of this journey!” said Bell, one of the actors who plays a Kona “Bruddah.” “Brutus and I have gotten such an amazing response when visiting places where the commercials have aired so far. I can’t wait for the entire country to see these new spots, especially family and friends here at home! I’m just extremely grateful to help represent a company that gives so much back to Hawai’i’s communities.”

Kona Brewing Co. employees plan to celebrate “March Gladness” at work.


In addition to celebrating March Madness with consumers and fans, Kona Brewing Co. is ensuring its employees across the country enjoy this seminal sports event by hosting “March Gladness” office viewing parties and sharing an invitation to enjoy a “little vacation.” Inspired by the new ad, where every sip of Kona tastes like a little vacation, Kona Brewing Co. is offering to reimburse all its employees up to $20 each to spend on their favorite Kona beer, in bars or retail stores. The internal “little vacation” offer begins March 21, 2018, when the first national TV ad runs.

“We know what our teammates really want to be doing once March Madness starts,” added Wang. “So we worked with our leadership team to make this year’s tournament a little special here at work. The ‘March Gladness’ viewing parties give folks a chance to step away from their desks and enjoy a Kona while connecting over the new ads and catching some of the games.”

Catch the Commercials

  • View Little Vacation: “The refreshing island flavors in Big Wave Golden Ale make each sip taste like a little Hawaiian getaway. (Or maybe not so little.)”
  • View To-Don’t List: “We all make lists of things we need to do. But what about a list of things we don’t need to do?”
  • View Kona Mode: “When you want to truly get away, there’s only one thing better than ‘airplane mode.’”

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