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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 11, 1985)
Monday, November 11, 1985
High sales show scooters
By Lise Olsen
Grace Jones, the sexy and andro
genous, outrageous singer-actress,
straddles the snub nosed,
aerodynamic red Honda Elite scooter
as if it is going to take her into another
dimension. Gradually she coaxes anoth
er outrageous rocker, Adam Ant, onto
the black leather saddle with her.
"It's sexy," she hisses during the
commercial, as smoke whirls around
them. In the uncensored version she
bites his ear.
The TV commercial is part of Honda
Motor Company's $6 million-plus
scooter campaign designed to attract
young consumers and non-motorcycle
riders, said Michael Malkasian, adver
tising supervisor of the Motor Scooter
Department at American Honda Motor
Using new-wave rockers like Jones,
Ant and DEVO, Honda bills its new
scooters as "the vehicles of the 1980s."
Honda chose such outrageous spo
kespeople to offset the negative image
that Malkasian says was closely linked
with older scooters like Piaggo 's Vespa.
"We had to overcome the basic
image that a scooter rider was a nerd,"
Malkasian said in a phone interview
from Honda's California office.
Jones, Ant and others were chosen
because they represent the "avant
garde new wave" set of the 1980s the
opposite extreme of the 1950s "nerd"
Courtesy Honda Motors
The Honda Elite
Leno gets laughs about
By Bob Asmussen
Jay Leno, who performed at Omaha's
Orpheum Theatre Saturday night, said
he can tell when someone doesn't know
"The guys that don't know me will
introduce me as 'wacky, zany, madcap
and adventurous,' " Leno said after
Saturday's performance. "I'm not wacky,
zany, madcap and adventurous. I deal
with things people can relate to from
Leno's favorite subject Saturday night
was television, especially commercials.
He talked about how commercials put
people in situations they would nor
mally never find themselves in.
"I look for a common denominator,"
Leno said. "And television is a common
denominator. Everybody watches TV.
Comedians from LA. come and talk
about mudslides and cocaine and peo
ple can't relate to that because they
don't experience that."
One of Leno's best lines came when
he described "Lifestyles of the Rich
and Famous" and "capitalism on acid."
"It's like Karl Marx' nightmare come
e," Leno said.
persona, Malkasian said.
The shock techniques used in some
of the commercials are intentional, he
"We needed to be noticed there's
a lot of clutter out there," he said.
According to a Gallup-Robinson poll,
Honda's avant-garde strategy is work
ing. The ad campaign placed in the top
one percent for viewer recall.
Yamaha, Honda's leading Japanese
competitor, also introduced
scooters in 1983, only with an
older target market. Yamaha's sales
theme, on which they have spent $1
million to promote, is "Transportation
for People Who Are Already There." In a
recent issue of Business Wreek Maga
zine, one Yamaha official accuses
Honda of "putting all its eggs in the
But so far Honda officials' strategy
They've outdistanced Yamaha and
all other competitors by capturing 90
percent share of the scooter market
this year, Malkasian said.
Honda expects to double its sales
again by the end of 1985 by selling
250,000 scooters, Malkasian said.
Nationally, Honda sold 60,000 of the
75,000 scooters bought in 1984, captur
ing an 84 percent share of the market.
The 1984 scooter sales went up 250
percent from the 30,000 sold in 1983.
Sales have nearly doubled since the
scooters were introduced in 1983, said
two local Honda dealers.
Last year 90 scooters were sold at
Jerryco Motors, 2400 N. St. This year
more than 140 have been sold, Manager
Gary Biskup said. Jerryco's stock of
"Sprees," Honda's smallest and cheap
est scooter has been sold out for
months, said Tony Block, Jerryco sales
man. The Spree, which sells for about
$400, also is the national best-seller,
Scooter sales now make up one-third
of Jerryco's business, Biskup said. The
store's other merchandise ranges from
motorcycles to lawnmowers.
Lincoln's Honda dealers carry all six
Honda scooter models which range
from the no-frills Spree to the Honda
Elite Deluxe. The Deluxe model which
Jones rides in the commercial, sports a
digital speedometer, trunk, pop-up
headlight and a water-cooled engine.
Nationally, 45 percent of Honda's
scooters are bought by teen-agers and
college students, an age group that
represents about 20 percent of the
Another show that caught the wrath
of Leno was "Anything for Money."
Contestants embarrass themselves for
a few bucks.
"The Russians must show "Anything
For Money" to prove what capitalist
pigs Americans are," Leno said.
127 So. 13th
f DANIELSON S f
127 So. 13th 476-7602
A UNL student surveys a line of motorcycles from
total population, Honda sales figures
Scooter sales are best urban areas,
the sunbelt states and college towns,
Local college students account for
most of the scooter sales in Lin
coln, Block of Jerryco, said. He
estimated 70 percent of scooter buyers
that he sees are 16 to 26 years old.
However, many of the more powerful
scooters (Elite 150's and 150 Deluxes)
are sold to middle-aged buyers, he said.
Buyers older than 36 accounted for
38 percent of the 1984 scooter sales,
Honda sales figures show.
Older people with more disposable
income are more likely to buy larger
scooters, Malkasian said.
Local businessman, as well as stu
dents, are buying scooters to avoid the
hassles of parking a car downtown, said
Jim Parks, manager of Hurlbut Cycle
Shop, 7331 Thayer.
According to Honda's consumer
data, many motorcyclists are "enthusi
asts who are into their machines."
"Scooter riders are a little more
adventurous," Malkasian said. "They
Leno's 90-minute show contained
material that was mostly new to the
audience of 891. Leno said he only used
one joke that he used on his last
appearance on Late Night with David
Letterman, a show Leno appears on
"That's been a good show for me,"
not a passing fad
S 4 V
want something to integrate into their
Scooters generally are cheaper than
motorcycles manufacturer's sug
gested retail prices range from $398 for
a no-frills Spree to $1,798 for the Honda
Elite Deluxe. Scooters also are lighter
weight and easier to operate than
motorcyles, Malkasian said. Most have
electric starters and automatic trans
missions. The smaller scooters have
two-stroke engines resembling lawn
mower motors the rider never has to
Several Jerryco customers have
traded their mopeds for scooters
because scooters are more powerful
and stylish, Block said.
"People feel more comfortable on
the scooters in traffic," he said.
Although the smallest "Sprees" only
accelerate to 45 mph, larger scooters,
like the 150 and 250 Elites, have four
stroke engines and can be driven 80
mph. The Elite 250 are interstate
approved nationwide, Block said.
Women account for about 60 percent
of his scooter customers at Jerryco,
Block said. National figures show
----- vS "
Leno said. "The people that watch that
show are the people that are going to go
and see a comedian perform live. I do
television to get people to go to these,
not the other way around."
Prior to his Omaha performance,
Leno had been in Winnipeg, Ontario
and Texas. He had a performance
We Don't Limit Your Style
FAMILY HAIR CENTER
THE CUT YOU KEEP
LTD 2441 N. 43th 464-8223 EAST 301 S. 70th 483-2964
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Andrea HoyDaily Nebraskan
astride his scooter.
women buy a lot of the smaller scoot
ers, Malkasian said.
The scooter's "step-aboard design"
allows more freedom in dress for the
rider, Block said. The scooter's apron
design and enclosed engine also pro
tect the rider, Malkasian said.
"You're not going to be getting road
dirt, oil or water on you," Malkasian
Malkasian and others argue that the
new scooters, which are more aerody
namic, attractive and comfortable than
the old designs, will have more lasting
Others say recent sales booms indi
cate a faddish fluke and scooter sales
are too dependent on a fickle youth
But so far, there has been no slow
down in scooter production and no
indication that the new designs will go
the way of Honda's Cub 50.
"I think they're here to stay. I think
scooters fill a void," Malkasian said.
Honda says it plans to introduce yet
another new scooter design in February
1986, although details have not yet
been announced, Malkasian said.
scheduled in New York Sunday night.
Despite the extensive travel, Leno
seemed energetic and happy to be on
stage Saturday night. During the last
30 minutes of the show, Leno had the
house lights turned up and talked with
different audience members.
Please see LENO on 10
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