Watch Miles Davis, Grace Jones, Adam Ant & Devo in 1980s Ads for Honda Scooters

Begin­ning scoot­er rid­ers can find a ver­i­ta­ble biker’s break­fast of point­ers on the Inter­net. One could cob­ble them togeth­er to make a con­tem­po­rary own­ers man­u­al, cov­er­ing such cru­cial top­ics as brak­ing, throt­tling, steer­ing, and stay­ing upright. But some­times one craves some­thing a bit more elu­sive, a bit more spir­i­tu­al. Is there a youtube equiv­a­lent of Zen and the Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance?

Not real­ly, but there are these ear­ly 80s ads for Hon­da scoot­ers, fea­tur­ing some of the era’s most icon­o­clas­tic acts.

They put Adam Ant’s dash­ing post-punk appeal to the test by con­fin­ing him in close quar­ters with Grace Jones. Grace, above, dom­i­nat­ed, with all the con­fi­dence and ease of a tiger caged up with a pea­cock.

The prize? Can’t speak for Adam, but Grace got to film anoth­er spot. Her co-stars this time were a grid of infants, whose moth­ers must’ve been relieved that the alien diva queen nev­er actu­al­ly inter­act­ed with them. Can you imag­ine if Hug­gies had shared Hon­da’s adven­tur­ous adver­tis­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties?

Jazz great musi­cian Miles Davis did­n’t have to do much to lend an air of cool to that scoot­er. Even the card­board box­es scat­tered in the back­ground of his garage ben­e­fit from his pres­ence. The Prince of Dark­ness’ rep­u­ta­tion was nev­er an 80’s-spe­cif­ic phe­nom­e­non, but he looks the part, kit­ted out like the Road War­rior

Synth-pop super­stars Devo urged begin­ning rid­ers to adopt their extreme­ly uncon­ven­tion­al brand of con­for­mi­ty, sug­gest­ing that the band’s uni­form of cov­er­alls and, uh, shoes was the per­fect thing to wear while rid­ing that Hon­da. Those who want­ed to hang on to some sem­blance of indi­vid­u­al­i­ty could do so via scoot­er col­or.

Iron­ic though it may have been, their will­ing­ness to be seen sport­ing, nay, pro­mot­ing hel­mets makes Devo’s ad my per­son­al favorite.

To see Lou Reed’s con­tri­bu­tion to Hon­da’s series of ads, see our pre­vi­ous post: Sell­ing Cool: Lou Reed’s Clas­sic Hon­da Scoot­er Com­mer­cial, 1984

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch’s Per­fume Ads Based on the Works of Hem­ing­way, F. Scott Fitzger­ald & D.H. Lawrence

Watch Lau­rence Olivi­er, Liv Ull­mann and Christo­pher Plummer’s Clas­sic Polaroid Ads

Klaus Nomi’s Ad for Jäger­meis­ter (Cir­ca 1980)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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