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September 11, 2017

"You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda." Possibly the Best Advertising Campaign Honda Has Ever Used!

By December 1962 American Honda was selling more than 40,000 motorcycles annually, while the number of dealers - at nearly 750 - exceeded that of any competitor. For the following year Kawashima set a sales goal of 200,000 units, meaning a figure five times that of the previous year's record. It was an astonishing target to the staff at American Honda. Kawashima knew it was not impossible at all, as long as the public reputation of people who rode motorcycles was elevated and the product name became better known. Accordingly, he was willing to invest a fortune on it. In fact, Kawashima was ready to lay down the largest sum his company had ever used to promote Honda motorcycles.

So, when Grey Advertising, a major U.S. agency, proposed a campaign with the slogan, "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda," Kawashima knew right away that it would work. This was to be a major campaign targeting the eleven western states.

The ad depicted housewives, a parent and child, young couples and other respectable members of society - referred to as "the nicest people" - riding Honda 50s for a variety of purposes. Moreover, the colorful illustration and highly professional design appealed strongly to the public. Those who would otherwise have rolled their eyes at the word "motorcycle," and those who previously had no interest in them, soon saw in the motorcycle a new purpose: one of casual and convenient daily transportation.

Mothers who once wouldn't listen to an adolescent child's plea for a motorcycle began to compromise, saying, "I'll buy you one, if it's a Honda." The Honda 50 even became popular as a present for birthdays and Christmas. And with its support from an ever-widening sector of the American public-from students and housewives to businessmen and outdoor enthusiasts-the motorcycle finally won recognition as a popular product.

Holding up the "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda." poster are Kihachiro Kawashima (then general manager of American Honda), left, and Takeo Fujisawa (then senior managing director of Honda Motor), second from right.

The Honda 50 had truly succeeded in its appeal to the American public. More than simply another motorcycle, it was seen as a casual vehicle for daily activities, and as such was an entirely new consumer value. It erased the motorcycle's deeply rooted image of evil and discontent. Simply stated, the 50 was a gigantic hit.

(via Honda Worldwide)




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