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California Surfing Day 2019

By Kristen Bonilla 09/25/2019

In 2018, the California Legislature officially named surfing California’s state sport, and Sept. 20 as California Surfing Day to celebrate the history and culture of surfing in California – and its role as an economic driver for the state.

For 2019, Visit California engaged in a multi-pronged campaign to promote California Surfing Day to a national, and international audience:

JMWD Foil!

To celebrate California Surf Day, Visit California launched a new episode of the hit series, Jonny Moseley's Wildest Dreams, called Foil! in which Jonny tries to catch a wave unconventionally. Jonny headed down to sunny San Diego to learn to foilboard from pro-surfer and foilboarding champion Kai Lenny, who taught him how to get up on a foilboard when being towed on a jet ski in Mission Bay. After a day of learning the ropes, Jonny headed out for the open water at Bird Rock Beach, where surf legend Rob Machado made a surprise appearance and tried out foilboarding with Jonny as well. 

To see if Jonny was able to catch a wave, or if he needed a little extra help in getting up, check out the episode, now on YouTube in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

GMA3 Strahan, Sara and Keke

Visit California partnered with GMA 3 Strahan, Sara and Keke on a segment that had Olympic Gold Medalist and “Jonny Moseley’s Wildest Dreams” star Jonny Moseley giving the hosts a surfing lesson. The 4-minute segment aired on September 20 and showcased clips of Foil! The end of the segment also had a great call to action for viewers to plan their surfing road trip by visiting Check out the GMA3 episode and see Michael Strahan hang ten here.

World Surf League Freshwater Pro

Surfing is so ingrained in California’s culture you can even surf in the Central Valley – approximately 100 miles from the ocean at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California!

The World Surf League’s Freshwater Pro event took place at the Surf Ranch September 20 and 21, making it the perfect tie to California Surfing Day. Visit California partnered with the World Surf League for this event to receive brand exposure in front of this key audience.

Highlights of the partnership included:

-       Sideline broadcast interview exposure aired on FOX Sports channels globally

-       Visit California branding throughout the event including content played on the jumbotron

-       Visit California consumer activation space showcasing FOIL and new surfing road trip content on

-       Photo opportunities and meet and greets with California competitors in the Visit California activation space, and meet and greets with Jonny Moseley to talk about “Jonny Moseley’s Wildest Dreams” and foilboarding

-       VIP viewing opportunities for Visit California guests, which included media, influencers and industry members to see this unique surfing experience

Influencer Campaign

Leading up to California Surfing Day, Visit California partnered with 3 outdoor lifestyle influencers and brought them to California on individual trips to learn to surf. Each influencer visited three coastal destinations and fully experienced California surf culture. Along the way, they met up with local California surfing influencers, who took them out for surfing lessons and showcased their home beaches.

This campaign included nine influencers in total, each with deliverables during the trips and on California Surfing Day. Preliminary numbers show 21 Instagram posts (not including Instagram Stories), garnering more than 61,000 engagements and 2.8 million impressions.

@arielleshipe posted awesome photos showcasing Del MarDana Point, and Los Angeles. She also shared IG stories daily during her trip. Professional surfer and Agray Surf Therapy Founder, Alex Gray, had a great time working with Arielle on her surfing techniques. And Arielle also surfed with Dani Burt who shared her love of the sport.

@justindkauffman posted some great content of his trip to Huntington BeachSanta Monica and Ventura. He shared daily IG stories throughout his trip as well. Surfing pro @shreddyhb was excited to give Justin his first ever surfing lesson. And recent Vans US Open of Surfing winner, Sage Erickson spent time surfing with Justin as well.

@jacobthefu and @estherjulee of Local Adventurer shared photos of their time in Pismo BeachSan Onofre and Santa Barbara. They also shared IG stories daily throughout their trip and a blog post of "15 Absolutely Amazing Surfing Beaches in California." @corina_rose drove back to her home town on the Central Coast to teach the pair how to surf. And surfer @annahrgott showed them the waves in San Onofre.

Surfing press trips

Additional media and influencers from multiple markets visited the state to get a taste of California Surfing culture. A domestic media trip took place in August to garner coverage (including this broadcast hit) in advance of California Surfing Day. And a UK press trip, as well as a pair of Brazilian influencers, @ninahaia and @fepaterlini, visited over the holiday to experience it firsthand and attend the WSL Freshwater Pro.

California Surfing Day 2019

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