FCB Plays Up the Hero Worship

Ego replaces adrenaline in Foote, Cone & Belding’s latest campaign for Kawasaki Motors.

Two cartoonish print ads breaking in January publications for the company’s Ninja sport bikes feature Kawasaki team riders Eric Bostrom and Rickey Gadson. Both ads ask the question, “Are you ready?”

In one, a smiling Bostrom sits atop his Ninja ZX-6R, which is perched on a raised platform. To his left and right are scantily clad women in go-go boots waving palm fronds and offering him grapes. A troupe of adoring fans, some wearing T-shirts with Bostrom’s racing number and sporting green hair, gaze up adoringly at him.

The other ad, for the 2002 Ninja ZX-12R, shows a triumphant Gadson being carried off like royalty.

Both ads retain the long-standing Kawasaki tagline: “Let the good times roll.”

“We wanted to keep it lighthearted,” said Eric Spiegler, group creative director and copywriter at the Irvine, Calif., agency, adding that the ads take “fan worship of the athletes to a fantasy level.”

The campaign, which targets men 18-25, moves away from typical action shots in an effort to illustrate “what’s in it for you” when you ride a Kawasaki Ninja, Spiegler said.

FCB senior account executive Nguyen Duong said the ads borrow elements from racing events, where fans often wear their favorite racer’s number and Kawasaki fans color their hair green, as Bostrom sometimes does, in support of “Team Green.”

The women, all in identical swimsuits, are modeled after the “um brella girls,” who shield racers on the grid from the heat, Duong said.

Campaign spending could not be determined. The Irvine, Calif., client spent $4.4 million advertising its motorcycles last year, and roughly the same amount through the first eight months of this year, per CMR.

The new campaign also includes a 30-second TV spot, “Worship,” which features Bostrom in a scene similar to the print ad. There is also a one-hour TV special, Dream Rides, which takes viewers across the country on a series of motorcycle adventures. Both began airing last month on cable network Speedvision.

The TV spot will also run on stations such as ESPN and Fox at the start of 2002.

Print ads are appearing in motorcycle enthusiast publications through the end of July.