AB InBev’s Kona beer surfs into summer with new name, brand refresh

    • Kona Big Wave, a beer brand founded in Hawaii and acquired by Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev in 2020, launched a new campaign to support a brand refresh, including a new logo and updated packaging, according to a press release.
    • The effort comes as the brand changes its name from Kona Brewing Co. to Kona Big Wave. The “Bring the Aloha” campaign features four spots and is supported by paid social media, out-of-home and other channels.
    • The creative sees the brand lean into its Hawaiian heritage, including surfing, and the easygoing lifestyle with which the state is often associated. According to press materials, the relatively small brand has consistently outpaced growth in the craft beer category.

    AB InBev is positioning Kona Big Wave as a premium lifestyle brand and introducing it to a wide audience with a new campaign built around the Hawaiian concept of “the spirit of Aloha,” which refers to a spiritual way of life associated with the state’s inhabitants that encompasses love, peace and compassion.

    “Kona Big Wave has always been beloved for its authentic connection to the Hawaiian lifestyle and its easy-drinking, island-inspired taste,” said Meredith Ruskin, vice president of marketing for Kona Big Wave, in a press release. “Now, with a modernized brand look and a new campaign that celebrates and shares stories of the Aloha spirit, we will be able to ‘Bring the Aloha’ to even more fans around the country.”

    The new positioning is reflected in a packaging refresh that leans into a more modern aesthetic with bright ocean blue and sunny yellow colors and an emphasis on the hibiscus flower.

    The four campaign spots — “Mean Mug,” “Dad’s Chair,” “Standoff” and “Noisy Neighbors” — were shot on the island of Oahu. In one ad, “Mean Mug,” sharing aloha builds a bond between strangers, while in “Dad’s Chair,” aloha is associated with family. With aloha at the core of the campaign, AB InBev will run a contest through the summer, asking consumers to share “Acts of Aloha.”

    Longer term, AB InBev’s goal is to elevate Kona Big Wave out of the craft category and have it compete in the premium beer space, per press details. The push comes as AB InBev more broadly focuses on premiumization. The company reported a 13.2% revenue increase in Q1 of 2023 and cited ongoing premiumization efforts as part of the success.

    The brewing giant acquired Kona’s parent company Craft Brew Alliance in 2020 following a 20-year partnership. The conglomerate now owns the rights to the brand in 49 states and internationally. PV Brewing Partners owns the Hawai’i branch of Kona.


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