Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2010

Pastor Terry Jones - Dove World Outreach Center

Luxury brands certainly have teams of brand police within Marketing to ensure their products aren’t being “Brand Jacked” or improperly positioned, but H-D is missing in action when it comes to the racially charged “N” word debate by pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp of Florida’s Dove World Outreach Center.

I’ll avoid getting into the debate over the ‘church’ content, but rather I want to point out that pastor Terry Jones is wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and something like this can’t help the motor company or worse can potentially hurt the iconic brand.

Here’s my take…  H-D has nothing to do with the video, and their brand is being dragged through the “N” word debate to make a, Dr. Laura-esque point about racial double standards.  H-D hasn’t done anything to draw this unwanted attention.  Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center have seen a rapid rise in notoriety for their pending “Burn a Koran Day” on 9/11.  It seems show business have outruled common sense.

H-D can’t control who buys their merchandise, but they damn well sure can respond with a “cease and desist” order on both YouTube/Google and the Dove World Outreach Center/Church.  They should demand an immediate pull down of the video and the CMO should have a “not on my watch” A’tude!  If it gets reposted, at minimum the t-shirt should be blurred out.

H-D as a corporation has diligently worked and spent tremendous amounts of money on their image and brand. Watching from the sideline with a blind-eye or having a “strategy of hope”… i.e. hoping that the dust will settle and there will be no negative impact on their brand would be negligent.  In fact, I’m a bit offended with having a collateral clothing association and checking my t-shirt inventory to trash any similar Mr. Jones attire.

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Get ready!  Labor Day is around the corner and summer school recess will soon be over.  Enjoy the final riding days while you can because after this it’s fall, La Nina and the northwest rain.

Color me skeptical, but the cooler temperatures and elevated chances of rain from La Nina may well come true so getting rides in before October will be a priority.  I’ve scheduled time to attend Street Vibrations in Reno in late September, but a day ride out to the mysterious and famous Shoe Treeis something I’ve been thinking about again.

Located north of Shaniko, Oregon (a ghost town with pop. of 25), near milepost 53 and about ten yards off of Hwy 97 is this lone, dead tree covered with old, worn shoes – “shoefiti.”

Shaniko, Oregon -- The Shoe Tree

A “Shoe Tree”, is a tree (or, occasionally, a powerline pole or other wooden object) that has been decorated with old shoes.  They generally are located alongside a major road, and may have a theme (such as running shoes). A shoe tree starts with one dreamer, tossing their footwear into the sky, to catch on a branch. It usually ends there, unseen and neglected by others. But on occasion, that first pair of shoes triggers a cascade and soon people are driving out to the tree, inscribing messages on their old sneakers and adding them to the “polymer beauty” as a work of art.  According to Wikipedia there are currently at least seventy-six such shoe trees in the U.S.   Technically to be a Shoe Tree there are rules.  The tree should have at least 50 pairs of shoes in the branches, be publicly accessible, and known as a “Shoe Tree” by locals.

So, without any explanation this strange little dead tree, located near a ghost town makes a person wonder… who started the shoe tree and why?  I’ve ridden through Shaniko in the past and spent some wind in the face time near Antelope, OR.  My previous post is HERE.  At the time I passed by this tree it had only a few shoes hanging from it and I made no mention in the blog. But these days it has hundreds, with more showing up all the time.

It’s a local mystery, but if you happen to be riding North along Hwy 97 at milepost 53 and you have an extra pair of shoes needing to be unloaded….add to the mystery of The Shaniko Shoe Tree.

Photo of tree courtesy of Flickr

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Communication technology and digital media have transformed almost every sector of society, altering the way we express ideas, participate in public debates, connect with others, entertain ourselves and define our identities.  The implications of the digital age are profound

And for the past 31-years, Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch has helped build the Harley-Davidson brand through innovative ideas in advertising, digital and public relations.  You may not know the agency, but you’ll remember their “Screw It, Let’s Ride” campaign which inspired people to get out and ride independent of what the economy is doing or what the pundits tell us.  In addition they developed the more recent award winning Harlista campaign which resulted in an 8.2% increase in share of motorcycles among Hispanic targets and a 615% increase in web traffic to the Hispanic section of the H-D web site.

But the relationship is no more.  The two companies have what the Tiger Woods divorce attorney’s might label as “irretrievably broken” as the two companies parted ways this week.

Clearly Carmichael Lynch wasn’t satisfied with a smaller lead advertising role and “resigned” as H-D’s new strategy has been moving away from a singular consumer agency and instead is working with several creative agencies like McCann, VSA Partners, Davie Brown and others.

In an era when relationships are measured in “internet time” the fact that this agency has been able to successfully maintain a client relationship for so many years and produce quality, award winning creative against many odds stands for something in my book!

Photo courtesy of H-D and Carmichael Lynch.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

The once-fictional Tru Blood beverage from the HBO hit series “True Blood” has come to life in bottle form this September.  It’s a blood-orange carbonated drink concoction with a 3-V mixture of Vodka, Vicodin, and Viagra… to bring out the vampire in you!

Actually I made up that 3-V mixture part, it’s just a premium priced slightly tart and sweet flavored drink.  Much better tasting than the two-ounce bottle of “Gulf Water” priced for $9.99 at oilspillwater.com!

But, speaking of bottling up the motorcycle elixir of life, and drinking the water,  long-time Sturgis rally veteran Tom Brandy had a dream to bring the Black Hills of South Dakota motorcycle rally to the rest of the world and now that will happen with the first event set in South Korea on September 17-21st.  In addition to having the common “South” in the festival city name many of the motorcycle events will be similar to the long-standing rally in the U.S.

Mr. Brandy is catering heavily to locals (website is in Korean) and it’s anticipated there will be large groups of motorcyclists from China and Japan in attendance.  There will be hill climbs, entertainment along with a broad set of custom bike builders (Ness, Perewitz, Trotta) in attendance.  No word yet on who from Harley-Davidson will be in attendance and whether they plan to scout potential manufacturing plants?

Harley-Davidsonesque Scooter (photo taken in Tokyo)

I can visualize an Asia blog post reflecting on the event already…

“For kilometers, the bikers have been overtaking the little KIA cars. Gleaming low-slung motorcycles with fat tires and riders settled into the seats, sometimes a pillion person too (i.e. “bitch”). Most built with a Harley-Davidsonesque Hog image, but instead sport two cycles.  Some of the riders nicknamed their Korean bikes the “Kimchi Piglet” as it has the porcine image but still hasn’t properly grown up yet. With legs stuck out in front so they’re nearly parallel to the outstretched arms operating the controls, booted feet pointed at the sky — riders rushed past an artillery range with the world’s most fortified border, breathing semi-toxic pollution and dodging kamikaze pizza-delivery scooters. Sturgis ASIA welcomed riders to the land of Kimchi, beautiful Asian girls and the home to a surprisingly strong motorcycle culture.”

Wouldn’t it be something if Sturgis ASIA surpassed Sturgis U.S. in attendance records?!  Japan is really the big custom motorcycle scene, however, when I was in Seoul, South Korea a few years ago they didn’t want anything to do with Japanese and likely explains why the event is not held in Tokyo.

Water bottle photo created.  Logo courtesy of The City Of Sturgis Rally Department and Sturgis ASIA web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Harley-Davidson

I’m balancing my checkbook.  I’ve been on the road about a third of the month with ATM and VISA slips from a lot of one-horse towns and I need to know how much money I’ve got.  I’m not a numbers matching up kind of guy, but I do like to know if the bank made a mistake.  It seems they never do!  I’ve joked with friends about the day when there’s a cash machine built into my PC. Click a button and green comes out.  Then again do you even need cash anymore?

And speaking of cash… In 2009, Harley-Davidson CEO, Keith Wandell was paid $1,430,055 in salary.  His total compensation was $6,363,579.  As comparison the average H-D worker made $32,048.  If my math is correct that is 198 times the average worker’s pay.

It’s jaw-dropping, but not all that extraordinary when it comes to CEO pay.

More importantly, is that Mr. Wandell brings fiscal discipline and order to the portfolio of businesses at H-D.  He is an outstanding executive.  He might not be deeply steeped in motorcycle knowledge, but for a numbers guy, Harley-Davidson is a fantasy land, and the path for navigating it couldn’t be clearer.  First off he has the board backing and the mandate, plus the ability to go around the company at different levels to find the people that have the actual answers to the questions.  He has no fear about losing his job or concern about his image as a numbers mercenary and won’t fret if the company morale declines a bit because of cost cutting actions.  I have no personal experience, but don’t cha think once you’ve joined the “million $$ salary club” the guts to cut deep automatically come along with the position power mojo?!  The decision’s that Mr. Wandell has to make is 198 times more difficult than the average worker, right?

Inside H-D

If you don’t think they are difficult then consider this.  Earlier this week the Harley-Davidson Wisconsin steel workers (more than 1800) received a letter from their Union President. In it, he explained that if they want to keep their jobs, they have only one chance.  That is to vote on September 13th, 2010 and approve the new H-D contract.  The Union President went on to say that if they don’t approve the new contract that “Harley-Davidson Board of Directors can vote themselves  on whether to allocate monies to Wisconsin Operations or another state.”

For all who try to blame the economy on the Democrats or the previous Bush administration I say who cares.  The facts are clear.  At the current rate of growth, 150,000-175,000 jobs per month, it will be 2014 before the U.S. unemployment rate drops to 8%.  And if it continues at that pace, it will be late in the year 2016 before the unemployment rate hits 6.5%. Bad news for all of us.

Whether the company board bestows jaw-dropping salaries and benefit packages on the exec’s isn’t a scandal.  Au contraire!  This is the NEW corporate direction and strategy and at the end of the day Mr. Wandell faces difficult choices that until now the previous management and board have been unable or unwilling to make.

Move baby, move may well be the anthem of 2010.

Photo’s taken at the 105th Anniversary Celebration.  Salary Source: AFL/CIO Paywatch Database

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

By now the campground dust has settled after the 70th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which brought thousands of motorcyclists and music fans to the legendary Buffalo Chip.

There were raucous crowds mixed with top tier entertainment at the “Chip” this year.  Even Pee Wee Herman lived through it to write on a blog for The Huffington Post about his experience.  See his video HERE.  But, overall it cemented the venue as one of the better entertainment locations with an array of art, vendors, food and people gawking (responsibly of course!).  The selection of musical guests resulted in one of the biggest music festivals of its kind in South Dakota. Doing a bit of name dropping, the entertainment included; Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, the Scorpions, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Lee Rocker, Tesla, Drowning Pool, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Guess Who, Trailer Choir, Buckcherry, Orianthi, Stone Sour, Jason Aldean, Williams & Ree and Disturbed.

But here’s the rub… there were a lot of people going to/from the Chip.  I was part of the 5 mile commute from town to the campground traffic jam that ran from the Buffalo Chip to I-90 on Tuesday night (August 10th) as rally-goers sat on over heating motorcycles for a couple of hours on what locals call the annual “biker crawl” to catch the Bob Dylan/Kid Rock show.

The Chip celebrated it’s twenty-ninth year of operation.  That’s twenty-nine years of motorcyclists trapped in wicked heat and traffic grid lock.  There’s no excuse for an experience like this.  In Sturgis there were NO law enforcement officers directing traffic nor were there any Buffalo Chip staff.  Just grid lock. What went wrong and why is there no traffic coordination?  Were people improperly trained?  Did too many people overwhelm the event or have budgets been cut so slim that the job can no longer be done?  It’s a case of pointing fingers.

Bob Dylan at The Buffalo Chip -- 2010

Ron Woodruff is the owner of the Buffalo Chip campground who I’m sure has great pride having overseen the tremendous growth and World Wide recognition the “Chip” has earned as one of the premier concert venues in the mid-west.  Tried to correct this situation, he has and last fall he tried again to get the Meade County commissioners to take corrective action, but the commissioners defeated a Woodruff backed bill which would have set aside money to purchase land for a shortcut from the major campgrounds to I-90.   I’m sure the meeting went something like this: “We don’t need no road that will only be used for two weeks out of the year. It will kill the vendors who depend on Main and Lazelle traffic for their business.”

The dust settles on "The Chip"

But as a business, the Sturgis town council and the Buffalo Chip should never be happy when people attend the rally, put down hard earned money for music concerts and have a bad experience for any reason.  It’s a simple situation.  How many times a year can someone afford to drop $300 for two people to go to a concert, drink a few beers, eat a Gyro and buy a t-shirt?  Not many.  So, they need to listen to the customer and make changes.   How about traffic police coordination? How about traffic alerts?  Or Twitter updates on the expected delays or reasons?  How about park and ride buses with express lanes?  Something.  Anything!

And while I’m on this rant… how about that lame video set up on the Chip stage?   Hey Ron, 1979 called and said they want their VCR camcorder back!  Are margins so tight that a short-term rental of a couple video JumboTrons for people to see the artists or the Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Contest be out of question?  Lastly, there use to be a TV segment on ABC called the “Fleecing of America”… I suggest a segment called the Sturgis “Fleecing of Every Motorcycle Music Fan?”  You see those stop signs that help create the grid-lock, become after the Chip concert, mixed with Monkey Rock and Full Throttle motorcyclists into a law enforcement sobriety stop as police officers stood in the street wafting for alcohol with their scientifically trained nose.  When they found an offence they processed tickets speedier and more efficient than the Hertz rental car return!

Were there irresponsible riders?  Oh yeah, and many of those who participated a bit more than others caught a free ride out of the traffic jam.  Yep, the Chip truly captures the essence of the motorcycle lifestyle, but it’s time for some changes.

Photo’s taken at the Buffalo Chip.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

MV Agusta - F4

I’m not sure who said it, but there’s an old saying about Harley-Davidson, that goes something like: “if I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.

So, on the day I left for Sturgis (August 6th), Harley-Davidson announced it had concluded the sale of its subsidiary, MV Agusta, to Claudio Castiglioni and his wholly owned holding company, MV Agusta Motor Holding, S.r.l.   You may recall that in October 2009, under the new leadership of CEO Keith Wandell, H-D announced its intention to sell MV Agusta as part of a NEW corporate strategy and to focus resources on the Harley-Davidson brand.  In fact, Mr. Wandell was in route to Minnesota on this announcement day so his handlers undoubtedly had everything all wrapped up prior to his departure ride to Sturgis.

The divesting announcement came 2 years (almost to the day) after it completed the $108M purchase acquisition of MV Agusta on August 8, 2008.  Then CEO Jim Ziemer said of the purchase:

“We are thrilled to welcome the MV Agusta family of customers and employees into the Harley-Davidson family of premium motorcycle brands,” … “Our primary focus with this acquisition is to grow our presence and enhance our position in Europe as a leader in fulfilling customers’ dreams, complementing the Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycle families.”

The divesting announcement didn’t include the sale price but its 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed the company essentially paid MV Agusta’s former owners to take it back.  In the filing Harley stated it “contributed 20 million Euros to MV as operating capital” that was put in escrow and is available to the buyer over a 12-month period. The buyer was Claudio Castiglioni, who, with his brother Gianfranco, ran MV Agusta for years before selling it to Harley two years ago.  In the filing Harley also said it received “nominal consideration” from the buyer. In a subsequent interview the company said the specific amount it received was $3 Euros (~$3.98 USD)

In 2008 most of us were stymied by the purchase of MV Agusta.  As a maker of expensive and exotic, high-performance sport bikes at minimum it overlapped with the Buell products and even worse was the company never explained how MV could attract younger buyers to H-D.

Here are my questions.  How many laid off workers equal the cost of this poor decision and why hasn’t the Board of Director’s been held accountable for one of the worst business decisions in H-D history?  Yeah, they’ll likely tell me “if they have to explain it I wouldn’t understand…”

I previously blogged about H-D going Italian HERE.

Footnote:  There is a certain level of incompetence from the old time management at H-D and they should-have-known-better.   It’s not the first time Harley-Davidson has had a hard time with an Italian acquisition. In the 1960s it bought a stake in Aermacchi, a maker of small off-road bikes as a way to expand into new markets. Eventually it bought the whole company, but that move also eventually failed and Harley sold Aermacchi in the late 1970s. The sellers and buyers: the Castiglioni brothers.

UPDATE: September 11, 2010 — Not previously made public, but buried in the Sale and Purchase Agreement filed with the SEC is a provision that H-D retains control of any press releases and statements about the sale for a year from the August 6th closing date.  Why?  Maybe the fact that H-D forgave a $103M Euro receivable… basically money it had loaned MV Agusta for operations.  The sale agreement specifies that the receivable transfers to Castiglioni for $1 Euro!!  Shareholders need to hold the board and management responsible for this “BARGAIN:”  H-D paid $108M, then put $20M Euro in escrow for Castiglioni when they “sold” it back; forgave $103.7M Euro’s lent to MV Augusta and wrote off $162.6M on the company.  Q3’10 will include more losses due to tax liabilities…does it ever end?

Photo courtesy of MV Agusta.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: