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Come Out Ahead on a Kawasaki

True to its daring form in developing and launching the 1969 500 H1 Mach III motorcycle, for 1972 Kawasaki announced a major three-year national advertising campaign supported by an aggressive $3 million budget.

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True to its daring form in developing and launching the 1969 500 H1 Mach III motorcycle, for 1972 Kawasaki announced a major three-year national advertising campaign supported by an aggressive $3 million budget. The campaign utilized 30- and 60-second network television commercials, print advertisements in enthusiast magazines, plus a dealer co-op program.
Created by advertising agency Cunningham & Walsh, the campaign featured riders having huge fun aboard various Kawasaki models, accompanied by the tagline “Come Out Ahead on a Kawasaki.” A catchy musical score made the radio and TV spots instantly recognizable and highly memorable, while the magazine ads included an array of three-page gatefolds, two-page spreads and one-pagers – all in full color. Supporting dealers in their individual markets was a combination of dealer-branded radio, television, newspaper and outdoor advertising.
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The first print publication of the campaign was the February 1972 issue of Sports Illustrated, and by September the creative had run in more than a dozen national magazines, as well as on network television. As noted by Dale Stevenson, Kawasaki’s advertising manager at the time, the approach differed from what other manufacturers were doing. The intent was to broaden Kawasaki’s overall reach on a year-round basis, rather than just seasonally, “and to make the Kawasaki name synonymous with fine motorcycles in the eyes of the general public.” In sum, the goal was to put buyers – and by association Kawasaki itself – ahead of the competition.

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In its first year, the “Come Out Ahead on a Kawasaki” campaign consisted of the following:

Television
An average of three commercial spots per week (using a mix of 25% 60-second and 75% 30-second spots) ran on the following programs from March through September 1972:

Sunday Movie Hockey
Cade’s County ABA Finals
Thursday Night Movie AAU Track & Field
Mission Impossible News

Magazines
In addition to the television commercials, Kawasaki ran an extensive magazine campaign in the following publications during the same period:

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Automotive Enthusiast Cycle Enthusiast Men
Car and Driver Cycle Playboy
Motor Trend Cycle Guide
Hot Rod Cycle World Outdoor
Road & Track Dirt Bike Guns & Ammo
Popular Cycling
Mechanics AMA News Special Markets
Popular Mechanics Cycle C.M.A. Psychology Today
Cycle Canada Rolling Stone
Sports
Sports Illustrated
Motorcycle Dealer News

Forty-four years ago, Kawasaki’s daring advertising campaign perfectly framed the company’s growing product line, its ambition to excel, and the commitment to put its customers ahead of the pack. And the approach hasn’t let up since, with a huge amount of current product information and other data available on Kawasaki.com.

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