FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. –-(Ammoland.com)- Ever since the launch of the H1 500 Mach III motorcycle in 1969, Kawasaki has refused to do anything halfway. Its Lime Green racing colors also flew in the face of convention, as did its Z1 superbike, achieving 24-hour world speed records, innovative advertising campaigns, and Kawasaki’s other efforts to build a unique and powerful brand.
Debuting in 1983, the Good Times magazine was an equally ambitious experiment in direct marketing for Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) that soon grew to an enormous circulation of 2.2 million – similar to today’s ESPN The Magazine. By comparison, even the top motorcycle magazine of the period enjoyed scarcely 25% of this circulation.
Good Times took its name from Kawasaki’s successful advertising tagline, and delivered an upbeat, product-oriented message to Kawasaki customers, owners of competitive brands, motorcycle magazine subscribers, Kawasaki dealers, and anyone else who wanted to subscribe. Best of all for its readers, the magazine was free. Produced until the mid-1990s, Good Times was KMC’s shout out to anyone interested in powersports products. It didn’t matter whether the subject was street riding, dirt riding, ATVs or Jet Ski watercraft, Good Times covered it all with articles and photography that inspired readers to take action for themselves.
The genesis of Good Times was KMC’s interest in delivering a substantial amount of content to a much bigger print audience than motorcycle magazines could deliver. It also derived from an internal publication called K-Line, which had been the voice of the company since the 1960s. Averaging about 32 pages per issue, Good Times was published twice a year in full color under the supervision of KMC marketing director Mike Vaughan, who, along with Henry Fiola of The Webb Company in Minnesota, had helped develop the concept for KMC vice president Henry Noda.
It worked. “Good Times was enormously successful.” Vaughan recalls. “Dealers told us people came in with the magazine clutched in their hands saying, ‘I want this motorcycle!’” Naturally, Good Times was as innovative as Kawasaki itself.
To give motorcycles, ATVs and Jet Ski watercraft cover exposure, later editions featured two covers – one in front and another in back, essentially turning Good Times into two separate magazines. Ultimately though, widespread use of the internet resulted in ink on paper no longer being the best way to reach customers, and so after a decade Good Times magazine had run its race. Fortunately, today its spirit lives on through KMC’s website and its social media presence.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous new Kawasaki models introduced over the years have helped shape the market, and in the process have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and riding pleasure. In the future, Kawasaki’s commitment to maintaining and furthering these strengths will surely give birth to new legends.