A big red Honda 90 and fine print in advertising


Have you ever paid attention to the “fine print” found at the bottom of some of the advertisements in the Republican, or, for that matter, any other print publication?

I’m sure most of you have not. Most of us are too busy to take the time to read them. The same is true for the legal notice at the end of some radio commercials. I suspect that they just speed up the recording to take up less time.

While working on an ad several months ago for one of our best advertisers, Precision Water and Power Sports out of Loose Creek I had to reset the “fine print” for a Can-Am ad they were running.

There were 345 words in the small print at the bottom of this advertisement. For comparison there are 735 words in this column.

The fine print is in a six-point condensed type. Six-point type is about as small of type we can print and still be legible, and that is stretching it. Most people (including me) need a magnifying glass to read 6-point type.

The type in this column is set in 11-point Times New Roman. In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure. It is used for measuring font size, leading (the distance between lines), and other items on a printed page. 

There are 72 points in an inch.

Now I don’t want to alarm or scare you. A big percentage of the 345 words at the bottom of that ad were there to protect the manufacturer from lawsuits. The rest are just plain common sense. 

As I was typing the words I started thinking. Most of the sentences could also be applied to advertisements by any car manufacturer. In the example below, just substitute vehicle anytime you see ATV.

Here are some of the warnings found in the small print:

BRP highly recommends that all ATV drivers take a training course. 

ATVs can be hazardous to operate

Watch the safety DVD before driving.

Fasten lateral net and seat belt at all times. 

Operator must be at least 16 years old. 

Always remember that riding (or driving) and alcohol/drugs don’t mix.

Never engage in stunt driving. Avoid excessive speed and be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Always ride responsibility and safely.

All of the fore mentioned warnings could be included on any new or used car ads. The difference is the consumer doesn’t sue the car manufacturer when they are in an accident.

If you look closely at any advertisement — print or video — for an ATV or UTV the driver, and any passengers, where applicable, are always wearing helmets plus a lateral net or seat belt.

I’m surprised that they don’t include a warning about talking on your cell phone or texting while operating your ATV. Actually they should. I will suggest that.

The reason they need all of these warnings on today’s advertisements is the power many of these ATVs and UTVs have.

Richard Boettcher was part of the group I hung out with in high school in the late 70’s. His parents, Herb and Shirley (now deceased) had a big red Honda ATC90 (All Terrain Cycle). Ninety referred to the size of the engine — 90 cubic centimeters.

The Boettcher’s were the only family who, at that time, had enough money to afford an ATC. Now, it seems, everyone and their brother has a UTV.

I don’t remember that Honda having a speedometer, but I bet it could reach 30 to 35 mph. The most fun we ever had with it was one winter when we tied our sleds on to it and drove in circles around a frozen pond.

The runners on my sled were never the same again.

The movie Diamonds Are Forever and TV shows Magnum, P.I. and Hart to Hart helped spur on the popularity of those three wheeled cycles.

Today the smallest ATV that Can-Am makes for adults is the Outlander 450. That is a 450 cc engine or five times more powerful than the 90 cc we had in high school.

They do make a 70 cc for youth, but those are typically for children age 11 and under. A 90 cc ATV is recommended for children age 12 to 15.

Thank goodness the Chevy Cruze I drive is not five times more powerful than my 1972 Nova was. On second thought that would be fun to drive.


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