By BRIAN SHANE
The Daily Times of Salisbury
SNOW HILL, Md. (AP) — Forget Rodney the Lifeguard. When it comes to tourism pitchmen, Brian Stoehr is a real-life spokesdude.
Worcester County officials are teaming up with Brian Stoehr, a professional bodyboarder and local resident, to be the new face of their latest tourism campaign.
“From what I’ve done for a living for 13 years now, it seems just like the perfect fit for myself and the county, being a world-class athlete from the Worcester County area,” he said. “I’m really excited to fill everyone in about how great the county is, and all of what it does have to offer. Worcester County is everything I do and everything I’m interested in.”
Plans call for him to host various videos that spotlight county offerings, from the small towns to the shoreline, and will appear as himself in their advertising campaign and in speaking engagements.
Stoehr, 33, started competing professionally at age 19. He was among the first competitors to ride a bodyboard like others ride a surfboard — holding steady on his knees while doing tricks and flips — and win.
He’s taken home two national titles as a competitive bodyboarder. He finished third overall on the most recent U.S. Bodyboarding Association tour. He’s the only East Coast native who regularly places in the Top 10 of the Hawaiian-dominated U.S. tour.
Stoehr (his name rhymes with “stare”) also just signed a new contract to have a signature line of bodyboards with the company Catch Surf. He’s also had endorsement deals with “20 or 30” companies over the years, including footwear company Airwalk, toymaker Wham-O, and wristwatch manufacturer Freestyle USA.
“I’m really honestly at a point in my career — I’ve always loved what I’ve done — but I like it so much more than ever have right now, and I’m having more fun than I ever had. It’s because of that, I seem to be doing better than I ever have,” Stoehr said.
Lisa Challenger, Worcester County’s tourism director, said Stoehr had reached out to the county tourism office, wanting to strike the partnership.
Challeneger likes that Stoehr brings the cache of being widely recognized in the professional bodyboarding and surfing circuit.
“He’s got this great, wholesome, clean-cut image,” she said. “He’s not an actor, he really is from here, and he really does love Ocean City and the beaches. I think he’ll do a great job.”
The marketing campaign will work with Errol Webber, an Academy Award-winning cinematographer and film maker. Webber was the winner of the 2010 “Host Our Coast” tourism travel contest, a video hosting competition that Challenger’s office helped to coordinate.
The county will also team with the tourism website OceanCity.com, where publisher Ann Hillyer said Stoehr will be used to create videos that not only show off the county, but help people learn more about things like surfing, boogie boarding, and rip currents, among other topics.
“It’s really going to become a platform for him, for his love of watersports and the ocean,” she said. “There just aren’t that many real celebrities that are from Ocean City and love Ocean City the way he does.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)