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Archive for April 2nd, 2010

Harley-Davidson has shown superb marketing prowess in the motorcycling industry with some absolutely brilliant campaigns, but could someone tell me what the exec’s were thinking of with this one on the right?

I thought about calling them to say, “Hey Harley, Scientology telephoned and wanted to let you know the spaceship is on the way…long live Zenu!” after reading it.

Sure the Motor Company is a textbook business school case study for “lifestyle” marketing, but this advertisement at minimum shines a spotlight on age disparity, trophy-wife dysfunction (TWD) and connotes enticement to underage marriage (depending on the state).  It’s a non-rational marketing decision to be sure.  It harkens back to the AMF marketing days where motorcycle rebels cared more for role models than reliability and the bad memories of the “Harley-Davidson Cigarettes” campaign in 1992-1993.  A miserable flop to be sure with several lawsuits leaving a bad taste (pun intended) in consumers mouth.

So, if I have this correct…we have a slightly weathered and bearded 50-something ‘boomer’… proclaiming that as a “quiet gray gentlemen” he would never let his under-18 aged wife ride his motorcycle until she turns of legal age.  In this era of hyper-pedophile-mania there is nothing more classy than old men married to under-18 girls. I find the ad downright creepy to suggest that under-18 girls are looking to ‘hook-up’ with a 50-something boomer. This marketing doesn’t make sense even for boomers let alone as a way to reach-out to the youthful motorcycle riding demographic.  The only thing I could imagine being worse is using it in a branding blitz during Child Abuse Prevention month or to post it on a billboard advertisement in Houston while the polygamy trials run through the court system!  To be fair, this ad/photo has been circling online since ’08 and I’m not exactly sure where it ran in print.  Let me know if you’ve seen it.

Last quarter when Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell stated the company was investing in the brand I first thought this was some kind of ‘code word’ for more layoffs, but little did we know it meant CMO, Mark-Hans Richer was deep in the H-D branding lab, with his sleeves rolled up, hitting the marketing white board to improve the company image.

H-D likely spent hundreds of man hours building out the creative concepts for this advertisement.  What’s next?  I’ll save them some time and $$… I’m visualizing a multi-city billboard campaign with a “cougar” straddling a Dark Custom… a Glee club drop-out on the back holding on with the tag line… “I just added my first aftermarket accessory.  I think his name is Billy.”

Time for a new marketing road Harley.

Photo courtesy of H-D and Flickr.

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Arial View of H-D Arizona Proving Grounds (Yucca)

The motor company delivers on its promise.

Not a new innovative motorcycle model, but to consolidate testing operations into one single location in Arizona – called the Arizona Proving Ground (AZPG).

Reports out of Kingman, AZ indicate that a local contractor (T.R. Orr, Inc.), received two building permits from the county Development Services Department, one for commercial renovation at the proving grounds and another for the construction of a brand new industrial plant.

You may recall that H-D moved into the Chrysler Proving Grounds at Yucca less than a year ago after it was booted from the General Motors proving grounds in Mesa, which had been closed and sold off the previous year.  The motorcycle company is shuttering testing operations in Talladega, Ala., as well as Naples, Fla., as they are in the process of moving those operations to AZPG through 2011.  I’ve previously reported as far back as 2008 on H-D plans of AZPG HERE and HERE.

According to H-D spokeswoman Pat Sweeney, the changes being made to the existing facilities and the new industrial plant will not only provide H-D the space and equipment it needs to make the most use of the proving grounds it will also – and are you ready for the “E” word – improve its efficiency.  Details on the cost of the new industrial plant or the need for any new employees from the local workforce were – incomplete – as Ms. Sweeney cited an obvious benefit to the community just because we’re consolidating there, but “we’re just still not really sure at his point in time” when referring to hiring plans.  I anticipate they offered folks in the shuttered operations an opportunity to move to AZ and are waiting on the final acceptance ratio before opening job req’s.

And speaking of jobs… the nearby and sprawling Arizona State Prison, Cerbat Facility (20 buildings on 45 acres) was a 2,000-bed minimum custody facility that just completed a major renovation and expansion into 3,400 beds.  I see an inmate labor force expansion in the near future and it couldn’t come at a better time according to local reports.

Photo courtesy of Chrysler

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