I don't even drive!
July 9, 2010 8:46 AM   Subscribe

In the mid 80s Honda produced a series of commercials for its popular scooter series by employing a motley collection of (mostly musical) celebrities. DEVO - Grace Jones (with Adam Ant) - Miles Davis - Loud Reed (or his music anyway) - Jim McMahon - Sandra Bernhardt
posted by The Whelk (33 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Where were these broadcast? I don't remember seeing any of these in Canada. And I think I would have remembered the Grace Jones/Adam Ant one for sure.

Loud Reed was not in the commercial. Lou Reed was (you know, they guy who said "Don't settle for walking" at the end?)
posted by maudlin at 8:55 AM on July 9, 2010

I remember the "Come on Adam" and Devo ones quite clearly.
posted by Mister_A at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2010

Another hero has failed me
He's a guest VJ on MTV
Jack's in his corset, Janie's in her vest
Lou's hawking scooters and American Express
posted by emptybowl at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

FUCK! I had all but forgotten about that Lou Reed commercial. Thanks for bringing it back. Foo.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:02 AM on July 9, 2010

I remember being blown away by how cool the Lou Reed one was.

Like many things about the 80s, it made sense at the time.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2010

Oddly, I remember the Adam Ant and Grace Jones spot ending with him saying "I'll take it" and her saying "I'll take you!" Ah, here it is with the extra line.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:08 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Jones persuaded rock star Adam Ant (who, prior to the ad campaign, had never driven in his life) to try it. The commercial ends with Jones biting Ant on the ear, which was edited out for airings in the U.S., but was left intact when it aired elsewhere.[42]"
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on July 9, 2010

Loud Reed? Kind of appropriate, actually.

But not even Miles can make that scooter look cool.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 9:10 AM on July 9, 2010

The danger in presenting Grace Jones as a commercial spokesperson is that little kids all over will see her on TV and think that's she's totally viable, acceptable personality to emulate and aspire to.

Which is just fine with me as far as society is concerned; I just think that it sets the bar for our young ones devastatingly high.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 AM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ah, yes, the good ole 80s, when finally even the deeply cool stood anxiously in line at Mephistopheles' door.
posted by philip-random at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2010

Loud Reed should have been a muppet.
posted by yhbc at 9:26 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

which was edited out for airings in the U.S.

I am pretty sure I saw it in the US. Perhaps on late night television (Night Flight or something) where the audience would be less shocked at "Grace Jones on Adam Ant" action.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:27 AM on July 9, 2010

I like how Jim McMahon's definition of "outrageousness" is pretty much to wear different sunglasses and act silly.
posted by HeroZero at 9:39 AM on July 9, 2010

The 80s were a more innocent time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on July 9, 2010

Nice find. Not only do I vividly remember these, I'm pretty sure they were my first introduction to Lou(d?) Reed.

I was just watching an old Rhino collection of DEVO videos, and was amused to see them presenting the amazing future format of tomorrow: the laser disc.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:45 AM on July 9, 2010

I'm not sure I remember any of these, but I'm not sorry to rediscover them. I recently watched a documentary on advertising that included some big names in advertising talking about what makes a good ad. These ads might not qualify under a lot of standards, but the DEVO and the Grace Jones ads (both with and without Adam Ant) have the personality of the people I remember from the day, and that's something more than I expect from ads these days. Or at least before I quit watching cable & broadcast TV and stopped seeing TV ads, anyway.
posted by immlass at 9:50 AM on July 9, 2010

I'm sure that Honda commercial prolonged Lou's rehab for a whole year . . .
posted by jeremias at 9:50 AM on July 9, 2010

I remember a one with music by George Thorogood that was shot on Super 8. Sadly it doesn't exist on the Internet.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 9:58 AM on July 9, 2010

Ahh, this is my favorite kind of post/thread.
  1. I want to see the Coke commercial that the end of which flashes momentarily at the beginning of Loud's commercial. It's a "Catch the Wave: Coke!" ad with Max Headroom.
  2. The song Emptybowl quotes up there has me re-re-evaluating LOST - this time as the manifestation and evolutionary child of Too Much Joy ("Hugo, Hugo/Hugo doesn't have these faults/Hugo Hugo/He is pure and he is good")
  3. I vividly remember the Grace and Adam one with the ear bite in it. Cableless USA, but maybe over at someones house? Just a data point, I guess.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:01 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow that Jim McMahon thing is the 80s-est thing I have ever seen. And I lived through the 80s. Kind of reminds me of that "Boneitis" episode of Futurama.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:53 AM on July 9, 2010

McMahon's bit, which I have horrible, horrible memories of cringing to, even now, reminds me just how awful the 80s were, and how absurdly funny it is that my nieces' generation reveres those days with a kind of glossy, truly truly outrageous lust. Amazing, how everything was "AWESOME" and "OUTRAGEOUS" and "TOTALLY!" when we were in the midst of the inevitable slide into being a nation of conservative Talibanians filled with a bloated sense of actually being fun, interesting, and dynamic people instead of the schlumpy MOR church-golfers we really are.

"Uncle Joe, did you really mousse your mullet and wear parachute pants and skinny ties and checkered Vans and glacier glasses?"

"Yes, hon, and I saw Grace Jones throw down her microphone after two songs at Tracks after complaining that she gets thirty thousand dollars to play in New York."

"That's sooo cool. The eighties rocked!"

"Yes, they did. I especially enjoyed Reagan and AIDS. They were, like, outrageous."

The irony, though, is that those Honda Elites were, and remain, some of the best scooters built and survive in perfect running order decades after every other vestige of the era has faded away. I'm a scooter guy (Stella!), and I'd still love to find myself a nice Elite or Helix to go with my pink LA Gear hightops and legwarmers.
posted by sonascope at 11:17 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sure that Honda commercial prolonged Lou's rehab for a whole year . . .

As I recall, that commercial was made right about the time Lou Reed was making a bit of comeback from addiction, actually. I remember "I Love You Suzanne" off of New Sensations got a lot of play on both classic rock and college radio stations in 84-85 and every DJ/interviewer went to great lengths to to acknowledge his recovery. That Honda commercial was a pretty savvy piece of marketing for him, because it re-introduced "Walk on the Wild Side" to a new generation of fans who were getting into his new stuff at the time. Pretty much cemented him as "Rock & Roll Legend" in the public's eye (instead of washed up 60's/70's drug addict).

Also, the Grace Jones & Adam Ant commercial ran unedited in the Northeast US, or at least in the greater NYC metro area.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:27 AM on July 9, 2010

"Yes, they did. I especially enjoyed Reagan and AIDS. They were, like, outrageous."

Obviously you're summing up the entire decade of 1980s with two unpleasant examples. Never mind that during that same decade the Berlin Wall came down, the Sony Walkman made personal music possible, small pox was eradicated, MRI scans were no longer strictly experimental and became available in most major hospitals, and the previously pricey fax machine and word processors became affordable to non-Fortune 500 companies and revolutionized the typical American workplace. Every decade has its warts, but I think it's a bit short-sighted to sum up ten very complex years with two downsides.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:36 AM on July 9, 2010

I own one of these scooters, a 1984 Elite 125, with a bit more than 3,000 miles on it. On the side, a sticker says "DEVO WAS RIGHT", as a reference to these ads.
posted by davejay at 11:48 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just seconding dirtdirt's post.
In many ways, the 80's were just plain fun. Of course, it was more of a wind-down from the 70's , which were Craaaazy.
posted by djrock3k at 12:11 PM on July 9, 2010

@Oriole - For the record, they're not two minor examples of the bad side of the 80s, but my point is really about how strange it is to look back on a decade I lived through and see these cultural artifacts frame in a historical context, while my teenybopper nieces just think it's all campy and stupid and funny. Now, a Walkman is fine, and being able to walk around ignoring the world and the other people in it is all whiz-bang cool and all, but I'm not sure we didn't lose something in the mix there.
posted by sonascope at 12:40 PM on July 9, 2010

Ha! I posted that DEVO video! Awesome!
posted by SansPoint at 12:58 PM on July 9, 2010

I love these! Reminds me of porn from the period (what doesn't remind me of porn?) - all tube socks and innocence. But no matter how cool the ad were - being stuck behind a put-put scooter in the fast lane during my commute this morning was definitely not.
posted by helmutdog at 2:18 PM on July 9, 2010

Speaking of deranged Grace Jones-based 80s imagery, it's worth pointing out her ad for the Citroën CX, which represents her and the CX at their most 80s extremes.
posted by sonascope at 2:42 PM on July 9, 2010

Can anyone explain Sandra Bernhardt's career to me? Who the hell is she, and how did she end up a star, despite lacking any charisma and not being especially attractive?
posted by bonecrusher at 4:05 PM on July 9, 2010

I'm a fan of Without You I'm Nothing and it's whole "uh is it a performance or is it a complete mental break?" feel it has.
posted by The Whelk at 4:30 PM on July 9, 2010

John Travolta on a Honda...
posted by gen at 2:28 AM on July 10, 2010

I'm not sure when that Travolta commercial was shot- I think it could have been 70s...
posted by gen at 2:30 AM on July 10, 2010

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