Behind the scenes at Icon "Hella Dangerous" ad shoot

Dailies -


Icon_Death_or_Glory.jpgIcon’s stated goal is to create safety gear for an underserved audience: young men on sportsbikes. You know the type: hasn’t yet crashed his shiny new R6, jean shorts, wife beater, white sneakers, squirts ink when threatened. By creating gear that appeals to that crowd and creative that speaks to them in a language they understand, Icon is fulfilling a valuable role in the motorcycle industry. Where manufacturers, the MIC and traditional gear makers are far too conservative to reach out to these guys in an effective manner, Icon is busy turning them into lifelong bikers by saving their lives. In the process, they’re creating the best advertising in the industry. This video takes you behind the scenes on a dry lakebed in Nevada.

Any misogyny you see is there intentionally. Young women find
themselves most often as passengers, with young men making safety
decisions for them. That’s not to say that girls don’t ride, but
there’s a huge number of women passengers wearing whatever gear they’re
given. Icon is marketing women’s safety gear for an at-risk audience to
the people that buy it: men.


  • Enthusiast


  • Mitch

    Some of Icon’s latest helmet designs blow me away – great stuff.

  • robotribe

    If this wasn’t meant to be a satirical post, then I at least applaud the effort to intellectualize the ICON “strategy” if in fact it’s to be believed as sincere. That said, as much as I’d like to believe ICON is working their own version of reverse psychology on the squidliest of demographics, I can’t believe their primary goal is any different from every other business: making money.

    No helmet, jacket etc., no matter how ball-bustingly-rad it’s wrapped in skull and faux-graffiti deco, is going to make someone who thinks it’s cooler to wear a backwards baseball cap and/or wife beater with the latest Jordans on their feet change their habits.

    Squids will be squids.

  • 6mt

    the riding position on that bike does not look comfy….

  • aoelus

    While nothing beats a trip to the ER to instill safety consciousness, disguising it in kit that looks sharp is a good beginning and I’m glad to see the trend is spreading. I’v bought a couple of the Nero range jackets and like them alot. Really enjoyed the video.

  • stempere

    That female model is just plain ugly. And what happened to her tits? I can’t seem to locate them on that shot…

    I hate that whole “to hot for you” pose when it’s done by girls with the body of 15 year old boys who grew up too fast.

    • nick r

      AH, I’ll take her, she looks a right peach to me!

  • will

    Postmodern genius.

  • matthew

    This is important stuff you’re seeing here. Whether it was done intentionally or just to “make money” any increase in rider safety gear is a good thing. Everything written in this post, whether intended to be satirical or not, is actually true, and if you know anything about advertising you know that it can vastly overpower cultural norms. Read “The Tipping Point” or any of a number of books on advertising effectiveness if you don’t believe me.

    Now if Icon could find a way to make stunting on public roads uncool we’d all be in good shape.

  • pbxorcist

    For once I wish someone could talk about Icon without labeling them as the brand for squids. You were fine with the underserved market, but for some reason just had to take the easiest of all potshots. It’s not just the squids, its also the urban market.

    Icon has a distinct point of view and is serious about their identity and their brand, and I dont really understand the need to denigrate their customers as part of any conversation about the company.

    I’m also curious whats particularly misogynistic about the ads or the video thats any more notable or worse than the BMW ads with the model and the cheetahs run the other day

    • Wes Siler

      I don’t think we’re disparaging the brand by being frank about their customer. In fact it’s Icon’s ability to provide a clear path to responsible motorcycling to that customer that makes the brand so interesting to us.

      The visual language of misogyny is a complicated one and is as much about context and cultural influences at it is just pictures of chicks. In the BMW’s case they’re creating images from the perspective of and for a fashion audience and the model is presented in an empowered role. Having said that, they’re pretty lame images. In Icon’s case, they’re adapting poses and contexts from men’s magazines like FHM and Maxim. They’re doing this deliberately in order to market women’s safety gear to young men. That sounds like a good idea to us.

      • pbxorcist

        I’ll give you a 50/50 on that.

        The Death or Glory ad being on the tacky side, and fairly objectifying. (I’ll go on to say ugly but at least well shot). I’d also point out that particular ad is selling mens gear.

        But I’ll give them credit for the Hella shots.

        That ad is a straight fashion shot designed to sell to women, and not men buying for them. Young women like to be cute and to feel attractive, and again we have gear styled for a purpose.

        Wives and Girlfriends are buying their own gear these days, and they are looking for gear that makes them attractive not misshapen, and the hella ad shows that off for them.

        You Said:
        “They’re doing this deliberately in order to market women’s safety gear to young men. That sounds like a good idea to us.”

        I don’t think thats the case from this photo shoot. You have an ad for mens gear all tarted up and an ad for womens gear in the closest thing to high fashion you’ll see from an American company.


  • Swagger

    I’d be extremely interested in a demographic study of those who are taking shots at Icon for advertising to their particular market demographic.
    Sure, Icon is passing by the Joe & Doris 50-something/Goldwing/Barcalounger set for a more suited target audience……why are you bitching?
    Are you miffed because Tampax doesn’t market to you sir? Perhaps you’d be interested in a line of men’s douches?

    Seriously…why are you whining? So the video isn’t aimed at you. Shouldn’t we be glad that someone markets SAFETY GEAR to a group that really needs it? Shouldn’t we as riders be happy that perhaps our brother/cousin/nephew/neighbor et al. is perhaps going to survive and outgrow the squidliness that makes him want to do the stupid shit we all did when we were his age?

    Now consider for a minute that perhaps it’s your daughter/niece/sister that for whatever reason find said squid appealing and ever more frightening… willing to get on the back of the squid’s bike? Remember…..stoppies and shit in front of the Alpha-Beta? Yeah and you’re going to piss and moan about a promotional push to get those kids into safetly gear.

    Who’s lame?

  • coho

    They’re trying to sell safety gear by showing us a stunter in sneakers and a t-shirt?

  • shamowfski

    I have an icon helmet and jacket. While it’s not the best quality, I do feel in the even that something were to happen I would be protected. My fiancee has 2 icon jackets, because she liked the way they looked and they fit her better than the non-”squiddy” brands. I’ve seen plenty of squids in all types of gear. Many things make riders squids, I don’t think choosing to ride in proper gear, no matter the brand, is one of those things.

  • Matt

    Looks like they’re having a pretty good time to me!

  • robotribe

    coho: “They’re trying to sell safety gear by showing us a stunter in sneakers and a t-shirt?”

    Thanks, coho. You pretty much summed up my thoughts in a more concise way.

    @Swagger: I don’t think anyone’s calling foul on ICON for marketing to their target demographic. It’s the contradictory “safety is cool” notion wrapped in stunter XTREEEEM videos and photos that that tweaks the authenticity of it all.

    It’s no different than making someone take a rigorous firearms safety course but ignoring the fact that they’ve got violent tendencies to begin with. You can’t change behavior just by disguising it in a different package.

    And for the record, I own an ICON jacket and gloves, can’t do stoppies or wheelies, but my girl is indeed hot. I’ve got no issues with ICON products, but this “strategy” just screams hypocrisy to me.

  • Philip

    I post every now and then.
    I am drunk
    I like chicks an’ tits and stunting an’ shit
    I watch youtube and read blogs
    but when it comes to parting with $$$, i exchange the moolah for whoever has the best QUALITY stuff – Icon or otherwise.
    I guess i am not the target demographic then.
    I REALLY like tits.
    PHILIP !!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  • Philip

    hey – its me again, i meant to indulge my narcissistic side in my last post.
    Stand by for link.
    (i am not a spammer – i got nothing to sell)
    Take 1 shot of drambuie and 1 shot of souther ncomfort and pour over ice!!!!
    yum yum yum

    (i still like tits)

    just go9t back from the Dragon !!!!



    • Wes Siler


  • carlos

    what’s with all the hate?

    here’s the deal…

    i’m 26. i’m male. i got a kawi 636. It’s customized for looks and speed.

    i prefer icon. why?
    They are first to make items designed for me. Helmets that are affordable and not full of the same bland, tacky tribal vector graphics. (I have a shoei x-11, but $600+ for a helmet that i’ve dinged twice on the track, is a bit much.)
    I’m a Staff Sergeant in the military, with a government paycheck (not very lucrative). I can afford icon anytime before i can buy Alpine or dianese (i have an Alpine race suit for the track, but it took 2 months in Iraq for me to save up the money for it.) Icon also came out with mil-spec friendly gear before anyone else I saw at the store.

    i always wear gear. I have too. My girlfriend always wears gear with me. I make her. she never gets on the bike without it. I bought her all her gear. It’s all icon (she loves the boots). And when buying for 2, i go for icon because it is affordable and looks good and protects just as well as the Italian brands.

    and any gear that can be marketed to the kids that ride where i live is good. You’d be lucky to see them with a helmet or gloves, especially in south florida. You don’t see Tourmaster gear a big seller down here. and most don’t follow GP, AMA or SBK to know who AStars, Dianese, or SIDI are.

    hopefully this gear will get them past the age of 30, so that if they do continue riding, they’ll be smarter and upgrade to full equipment and transition from invincible asshole to “oh, I have responsibilities to make sure i see and take care of…”

    i guess i’m the target then.

    • Wes Siler

      Exactly, they’re the only company building gear targeted at you and your colleagues, meaning they’re helping turn some of the younger guys, who are less likely to wear any gear in the first place, into responsible riders.

  • SJY

    I run that Death or Glory jacket (Suzuki version, same chassis). It is a very functional and stylish jacket. What does being a squid have to do with it?

    It seems like HFL is out of touch with what riders really think about.

    • Wes Siler

      Or, you know, just ahead of the curve.

  • Dan

    What about Teknic. Don’t you think they market some of their products to a similar demographic?

    • Wes Siler

      Not as effectively.

  • carlos

    shift is another brand that just started too.

  • stu

    i cant believe some of you guys swallow the “we want to promote safety to hooligans” spin. THis video is saying stunt riding is cool, especially when you dont wear safety gear. It’s unequivocally promoting an anti-safety message in order to ingratiate itself with its target customers. They dont want to be told to be safe. THey want to be told that hooning is fun and you can look cool while you’re doing it. Hence this video