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What happened to motorcycle TV ads? Relive the 60s with classic Honda adverts

Enjoy 10 minutes of pure motorcycle nostalgia. They say you meet the nicest people on a Honda…

You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda advert

Whatever happened to these wholesome TV adverts for motorcycles? We recently came across 10 minutes of absolute pure nostalgia from the mid-90s: a compilation of the classic ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ adverts straight from the United States of America. 

Adverts from back then were a completely different beast. Direct, clear, concise - and not afraid to lean on a few exaggerations to get the point across. 

For example, state-of-the-art drum brakes that are (wishfully) capable of literally stopping on a dime (10¢), and a dime our plucky rider is happy to pick up as that’ll conveniently fill up the tank of his Cub. How times change!

Honda Cub classic motorcycle

William Conrad (of TV detective 'Cannon' fame) adds in a dramatic voiceover an ambitious line of achieving ‘200 mpg’ per tank to prove how cheap & efficient it is to run one of these little beauties. Accurate? Maybe not. Optimistic? Absolutely.

That optimistic attitude underlines the 10 minute compilation of Honda ads, compiled with humourous shots and romantic ideals of two-wheeled riding. It's just pure, unadulterated happiness.  

Watch: 'You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda' classic motorcycle adverts

In answer to the ‘what happened to these adverts’ question, it could be considered a numbers game. At least in the UK, there are roughly just over 1 million active motorcyclists, and adverts are a seriously costly expense to appeal to a fragment of an audience that may be watching the TV at that time. 

For that reason, advertising the latest machinery has moved with the times - motorcycles and scooters are peddled directly to the consumer through releases (online and the few newspapers/magazines) in the motorcycle media. If you want an aside, here's 10 top motorcycle TV ads.

And, to be fair, video ads exist - but are filmed for direct targetted online marketing. Take the new Honda Super Cub as the example.

classic honda advert

But back to the ‘good ol’ days’, you’ll notice that the stereotypes played on here are the classic ones of that era, and to quote James Brown, ‘It’s a man’s world’.

I can practically hear Simon & Garfunkel playing in the background of these clips!

You would absolutely not get away with releasing these adverts now. Far too many regulations and health & safety hoops to jump through.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

How on Earth did they film this? GoPro's didn't exist back then

In any case, a few personal highlights from the videos:

Empty streets of San Francisco - yeah right. No safety gear or helmets (at least, until the colour ads). Practically flooring the forecourt attendant with a 1 gallon fill-up - his face screams 'oh you silly goose'. Honda dealers with up to 15 different models - including the Honda Trail 90, Honda Cub, Honda 50, even Honda’s first sports bike, the CB77 Super Hawk 305cc, billed then as the ‘big capacity machine’!

Honda motorcycle dealer from 1960s

Or perhaps my favourite line - “…if you must have four wheels… how about another Honda?” with our protagonist’s wife coming into shot. Absolute pure brilliance.

It’s a 10-minute nostalgia wave, and it has the air of the idealist happy-go-lucky days of post World War 2 that truly reflect the attempting to gloss over the struggles of that era.

Television ads for motorcycles may be in the past, but the history remains - and in particular, the impact this ‘nicest people on a Honda’ campaign is taught in marketing classes around the world for the sheer impact it had on a growing customer base. 

Honda CB77 Super Hawk 305cc

Fantastic stuff.

Now, where’s that big 305cc that I can trade up to? And can I get it at the same 1960s price?

I'd imagine your face resembles that our favourite forecourt attendant from the video...

motorcycle fuel refuel petrol station