The best job in the world

It seems we’re coming to the end of the golden age of magazines.

For most older riders, magazines played a huge part in forming attitudes to dirt-bike riding, and to shaping the sport itself. On this page you’ll find some stories – more like yarns, really – drawn from behind the scenes at Australian dirt-bike magazines. There’s no lesson in these. It’s just to pass a little time and maybe blow a little dust off some old memories…

A few yarns from behind the scenes on Aussie dirt-bike mags.


Dominator advertisement from Australian DIRT BIKE Magazine #171

In 1994 Aussie Dirt Bike had a long-term test Dominator. Tony Kirby was editor at the time, and he wanted to make ads for Honda. He didn’t seem to want to make ads for anyone else, just Honda. At that time he was a huge fan of XRs, the Safari and John Hederics, but he wasn’t a fan of this Dominator, which he rode once and said was “…a f*#kin’ road bike”.

But he wanted to make ads for Honda and he came up with this concept, which Honda approved.

For ADB at the time it was a bit of an undertaking. Getting the pics meant trucking the bike, photographer, girls, lights and all kinds of incidentals to the location, shooting it, then trucking it all back again. The photographer was Ian Lovegreen, an enormously capable and likable bloke with a very long association with the mag, and there was no digital photography then, so it was shot on medium-format film. That meant every 12 or so shots cost $100, plus Ian’s fee. He was a pro and would nail the shoot in the first two or three images, thank goodness, but it was still scary to think of the cost.

The location was the dressing room at Brookvale Oval. If you look you can see the Manly Sea Eagles’ logos on the tiles of the showers. Photoshop was in its infancy then, and the sea eagles stayed.

The girls were models hired for the day – another scary expense – and the bloke sitting on the bike was – I think – the world’s luckiest work-experience kid who happened to be doing a week at ADB.

The copy on the ad is TK all the way. That was his style through and through: a central idea hammered home over and over.

It’s a great-looking ad and worked well.

Dominator advertisement from Australian DIRT BIKE Magazine #171

This is the same bike, but this time it’s sitting in the carefully maintained photo studio area downstairs at ADB in Warriewood, NSW.

I’m not totally clear on the history of this ad. I think Ian Lovegreen did the pics while the bike was brand, spanking new. TK decided later it would be a good image for an ad, then chucked it on my desk and went for a ride. He’d lost interest in the bike by then, and left it up to me.

I cringe a bit at the copy and concept now, but for some reason at that time I was going through a bit of a war-time theme thing. (I remember pitching a campaign for AGV helmets and the theme was “SHELL SHOCK” – ‘cos helmets had shells, y’know? John Chiodo from Monza Imports asked quietly, “Do you know what shell shock is?”). The “FRESH FROM THE CRATE” at the bottom looks like I suddenly thought, “Hang on. I’d better come up with a reason for having those pallets an’ that there!” I don’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it happened.

The Dominator ads seemed to work okay and TK went on to do another campaign for Honda’s XRs. The ongoing theme was “LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT. MAKE IT BIG ON AN XR”. He and Ian Lovegreen travelled all over creation to shoot the locations TK insisted on. As I remember, pretty much everywhere they went, it rained and was as dark as a pocket, and the images were a problem

I’ll see if I can find a couple.


One Comment

  1. hay it took 2 secs to figure who wrot that stuff above well done Tom i had almost forgotten what a fun time it was shooting for ADB
    All the best from Ian Lovegreen OAM

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