As part of a multi-year global deal, the Jeep brand was the exclusive automotive partner of the World Surf League’s Founders’ Cup of Surfing event, an historic nation-versus-nation team event featuring a cross-section of the world’s best surfers, held at WSL Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California on May 5 & 6, 2018.
The first-ever official event at the WSL Surf Ranch took place in front of a sellout crowd and was a showcase of amazing surfing skills, with the world’s best female and male surfers battling in teams for their home countries. An extremely tight competition saw the combined World Team run out overall winners ahead of Brazil in 2nd, USA in 3rd, Australia in 4th and Europe in 5th. The World Team was led by South African pair Jordy Smith (Team Captain) and Bianca Buitendag, backed up by Michel Bourez (Tahiti), Paige Hareb (New Zealand) and Kanoa Igarashi (Japan).
Achieving the top-scoring wave of the contest, Filipe Toledo of the Brazil Team earned a perfect 10 for his team and received the Jeep Best Ride Award, which also earned him the prize of a 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
The WSL Surf Ranch facility boasts the best man-made wave in history – a 700-yard, high-performance, bi-directional wave featuring barrel sections and maneuver sections. Primarily existing as a testing facility, the Lemoore site has spent the past two years dialing in the technology under the guidance of 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and feedback from visiting WSL surfers. The technology has captured the imagination of the global surfing community, and the Founders’ Cup was the WSL’s first public event at the facility – showcasing the wave and the world’s best surfers through a unique team format.
"Surf and Jeep brand fans share an extreme enthusiasm that drive them to seek their next adventure," said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA. "The Founders’ Cup and the Surf Ranch are born from the passion of an entire community that dreamed its existence. These are the same dreamers and doers that fuel our Jeep brand culture. We not only share the same sensibilities as the World Surf League, we also provide the global reach that is both uniquely compatible and necessary to extend across their worldwide surf events."
Jeep had an on-site activation at the event, including the recently announced "Jeep Sessions: A Surfing Journey in 360°" virtual reality experience, where fans can take a virtual reality adventure with Jeep Ambassadors Jordy Smith and Malia Manuel. In addition, a series of "Crazy Passionate" videos that embody the shared DNA between the Jeep brand and the spirit and soul of surfing/surf lifestyle are running across the Jeep brand’s social and digital channels.
Additional elements of the Founders’ Cup partnership included:
- The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler and new 2019 Jeep Cherokee were on display
- Jeep brand vehicles were assigned as VIP transport
Five teams – USA, Brazil, Australia, Europe and World – made up of three men and two women surfers from the elite WSL Championship Tour, competed over the two-day event. The competition was hosted against a festival backdrop honoring the culture of surfing – food, music, beverage, art and special guests were on site for enjoyment.
As the WSL’s exclusive automotive partner, the Jeep brand continues its sponsorship of surfing’s most sought-after properties – the Jeep Leaderboard and the iconic yellow Jeep Leader Jersey.
Jeep was recently recognized as a 2018 "Cult Brand" Honoree at the annual The Gathering (Society of Cult Brands) – the first and only automotive brand to be recognized by the association. Eight brands, and their leaders, were honored for their outstanding courage and unconventional thinking in achieving enviable brand engagement and reaping the benefits of cult-like status.