Kona Brewing – Look Out for The Kona VW
When it rolled off the Wolfsburg production line in 1970, this VW bus had no idea what kind of celebrity status it would enjoy someday or that it would end up 40 years later in Southern California. In 2009, this box-shaped beauty was purchased by Kona Brewing with a vision; To spread Liquid Aloha throughout Southern California, especially if that
means sampling the beer right out of the VW itself. Its white paint provided a nice blank canvas for its Longboard Island Lager imagery, and as of June, the bus was painted and ready to roll along the 5 or through beach towns all along PCH. It doesn’t stray far from its Orange County home or its 2nd home in San Diego, and if you like a good festival event in SoCal and beer is on tap, chances are this bus is nearby.
A little background on the Kona VW:
Kona Brewing’s headquarters are in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, but Southern California is its #1 Mainland market. Kona Brewing’s field marketing team consists of two managers; Dustin Romero and Brandon Richards, who have recently brought on three marketing reps. The two men and one woman team have specific Liquid Aloha duties, and among those are to drive the bus to high profile locales, mostly surf events, and usually events where water is part of the fun. May was a busy month for the bus; it partied Cajun style at Gator by the Bay in SD, the Gaslamp Golf Tournament, and at another bayou-themed event at Qualcomm. The party continued in July with the TransWorld Magazine Shootout in Carlsbad, the Major League Baseball All Star Game in Anaheim, and will soon be happening at the Surf Monkey event in Oceanside where Kona beer will be in the bus, on tap. The Kona bus will also be on hand at the US Open of Surfing the first week in August, and then at the Tiki Oasis in San Diego.
What’s this bus got that most VW’s cruising up and down PCH don’t?
For starters, it’s kitted out with a draught system holding two fresh kegs of Longboard Island Lager and Wailua Wheat. Its bench seats hold 5 people (plus 3 in front), and its thumping 50 watt Alpine iPod®-/Satellite Radio-/HD Radio-Ready In-Dash CD Deck system as a screen to roll videos. It’s also stocked with Frisbees, key chains, beach towels, chairs, and bottle openers and about every chachki a brand needs to spread Liquid Aloha.
As you can probably guess, a 40-year old bus is not without mechanical issues; it’s had an engine rebuild and irksome flat tires are common along PCH. These problems are minor to both Brandon Richards and Mattson Davis, president and CEO of Kona Brewing, who agree that the VW bus is a successful method of marketing the brand. It stokes the aloha spirit and is tantamount to serving it up the way us Southern Californians like it—fun and festive.
“There are 13 million people between Orange County and San Diego and the bus is pretty eye catching, to say the least,” said Richards, a native of La Jolla, CA. “We have hand-picked the events where we’ll be, and people are constantly stopping us to take photos.”
Davis adds, “The beauty of this bus is that you’ll get to experience it where people are active and having a good time, central to life in Southern California. I have ridden in it and people do double takes, and with its draught system, videos, and someday a PA system, it’s almost a mobile event kit that can hit the road at anytime, anywhere at the drop of a hat.”
More VW action
As well as surf, sun, water and fun events this summer, a couple more things are in store for the V-dub this year; one is to collect photos and videos where people see the bus in action, most likely administered on Facebook. The second is to give the bus a name, which the brand wants to turn out to its 8,000 fans on Facebook as well. Have you seen the Kona VW around these parts? Hold onto that photo or video; contest is coming soon!