In this Ads of the Times post, I will be featuring Honda. As seen in episode 5, “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” Honda was a huge success in the motorcycle industry, but had not made it big in the car business yet. In this look back into the early days of Honda, we get a glimpse of some of the advertising methods they used in the 1960’s that would help Honda become a real success here in the Untied States. Below is copied from Wikipedia.
“From a young age, Honda’s founder, Soichiro Honda (本田 宗一郎, Honda Sōichirō) had a great interest in automobiles. He worked as a mechanic at a Japanese tuning shop, Art Shokai, where he tuned cars and entered them in races. A self-taught engineer, he later worked on a piston design which he hoped to sell to Toyota. The first drafts of his design were rejected, and Soichiro worked painstakingly to perfect the design, even going back to school and pawning his wife’s jewelry for collateral. Eventually, he won a contract with Toyota and built a factory to construct pistons for them, which was destroyed in an earthquake. Due to a gas shortage during World War II, Honda was unable to use his car, and his novel idea of attaching a small engine to his bicycle attracted much curiosity. He then established the Honda Technical Research Institute in Hamamatsu, Japan, to develop and produce small 2-cycle motorbike engines. Calling upon 18,000 bicycle shop owners across Japan to take part in revitalizing a nation torn apart by war, Soichiro received enough capital to engineer his first motorcycle, the Honda Cub. This marked the beginning of Honda Motor Company, which would grow a short time later to be the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles by 1964.
During the 1960s, when it was a small manufacturer, Honda broke out of the Japanese motorcycle market and began exporting to the U.S. Taking Honda’s story as an archetype of the smaller manufacturer entering a new market already occupied by highly dominant competitors, the story of their market entry, and their subsequent huge success in the U.S. and around the world, has been the subject of some academic controversy.
During the promotion of Honda motorcycles, 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.” This is the same Grey Advertising mentioned in Mad Men.
Commercials: Here is a song that was used in a commercial ran during the 1960’s promoting that same slogan that Grey pitched to Honda.
Below is two links that feature some other campaigns that Honda ran, this time with the slogan was “Good Things Happen On A Honda.” The second commercial has a very young John Travolta.
Here are some ads that were featured in a magazine during the 60’s that also had the tag line “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda.”
Here is an ad from 1967. It features the tag line “Honda shapes the world of wheels.”
Here is an ad with the tag line “Some People Have All The Fun.” This campaign was clearly stating that you would have more fun if you owned a Honda.
For information about the “Nicest People Campaign” and more, check out this link talking about this critical time for Honda in the 1960’s.
Finally, here are two ads that Honda used in there early campaign for there car ads.
It is a lot of fun to look back into the early days of advertising, comparing how the ads looked in real life versus what we see on Mad Men.