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Harley-Davidson Press Release

In mid-August, Harley-Davidson rolled out a press release (on the Canadian news wire) to announce the launch of a global campaign that embraces “The Freedom of The Open Road.”

It’s part of a 10-year global strategy to build the next generation of Harley riders and the new brand platform is “All for Freedom, Freedom for All” which comes to life with videos containing user-generated and filmed content that shares moments of the open road by riders past and present.

The ambitious campaign goal is to increase Harley’s brand relevance and inspire those “sleeping license holders”  to experience the same freedom that all current Harley riders feel with the wind in the face and ultimately to purchase a motorcycle.

The Harley-Davidson marketing group is using the #FindYourFreedom hashtag to generate social media awareness.

It’s common knowledge that when using a hashtag, you are categorizing your post and is viewed as a valuable tool when marketing your brand.  The objective of course would be to find a hashtag that has never been used previously and one that would really set the campaign apart from all the other social media noise.  However, there is another large company with an equally large brand that is already using the #FindYourFreedom hashtag with an associated marketing campaign.

They spell it:  J E E P  — you know, the company with an adventurous lifestyle that requires an adventurous vehicle!

While you can’t legally own a hashtag, the marketing 101 manual suggests that you chose one that people will associate with your brand, by leveraging a distinctive phrase or word associated with your company and messaging that marketing execs would, at best, like to see go viral or, at worst, contribute to the marketing campaign in a very positive way.

Think about it.  Harley-Davidson just launched a multi-year campaign and is encouraging motorcycle fans to join the social media conversation of a larger Jeep fan base!

The marketing folks may have actually “muddied” the Harley-Davidson brand or made it vulnerable by this hashtag gone wrong.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Jeep.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Sutter-5It happened again…

I’m talking about Kurt Sutter’s rant (again) about another Emmy snub for his critically acclaimed, astounding work of genius that is currently running fifteen or twenty times a week on FX Cable Network—Sons of Anarchy.

There were 13 episodes in Season 6 if you were keeping score.

We all know this is just a TV show, just like we all understand politicians who get in front of the camera and talk about jobs, the economic recovery, healthcare, the illegals crossing the border, etc., are just a TV show too.

For me, “Sons” lost its way a long time ago.  As the show gained notoriety, Sutter’s dark writing and extreme dramatic license became more about shock and awe moments than genuine storyline.  Even with a blog Sutter shout-out, I changed the channel, quit watching, stopped criticizing and moved on.

It’s now in its final season.  As a working blogger hack, it hardly matters what I think.  Of course, Sons of Anarchy is not made for me.  It’s made for an audience that spends its (jobless?) days on Facebook, or tweeting and surfing the web buying things on credit.

Frankly I could care less about the Emmys.  If we’re being intellectually honest, the Emmys are not and have never been a valid qualifier of talent.  Mr. Sutter clearly has talent and his share of loyal fans who believe he’s a genius, but why claim to be suffering from a syndrome named after a mediocre daytime soap actress (Lucci Effect)?

For my valuable entertainment time, Breaking Bad was just a vastly superior show.  Sons always had the potential and talent (in front of and behind the cameras), but seemed willing to settle for less (gratuitous and gruesome violence for ratings) rather than strive for the best.

Photo courtesy of Kurt Sutter and Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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 Oculus Rift, a virtual reality 3-D headset

Oculus Rift, a virtual reality 3-D headset

Oculus what?

Developed by a home schooled 19-year old garage hacker, Palmer Lucky, created Oculus Rift, a virtual reality 3-D headset that uses 360-degree head tracking to make it feel like you’re inside a different world.  For example, looking to the left or right will automatically pan the scene in either direction, making it feel as natural as looking around in reality. The eyewear also provides parallel images for each eye, which is the same way your eyes perceive images in the real world.  Facebook recently acquired Oculus for $2B, yes that’s B as in BILLIONs, recognizing it had many untapped applications when it bought the company.

Still don’t understand?  Here is a horse riding experience video.

We’ve all either read or heard about the Harley-Davidson Fit Shop where the local dealer will take you through a step-by-step process literally seating you on a bike and switching out components such as seat, handlebars, suspension and foot controls until they find a combination that fits you.

Always Be Closing...

Always Be Closing…

But, if you’re very early into the motorcycle “consideration” purchase phase and unsure of riding or unclear about the whole motorcycle lifestyle thing, what then?

That’s where the Oculus Rift could be leveraged.  It was made specifically for gaming when it was initially introduced, however, people are using the headset to drive tanks in the military and medically explore the human body, among other fascinating applications.

I’m sure I’ve sparked some interest or debate as to whether Harley-Davidson could really use the technology to good effect.

Why not?

H-D could surely leverage the technology to provide consumers who are unsure if they want a motorcycle, have little knowledge about them or the experience and not sure what kind to purchase.  For some enjoying luxuries that are unaffordable in the real world, this might be just the ticket to spending time in a riding (virtual) environment.

FUSAR Technologies - The Guardian

FUSAR Technologies – The Guardian

For grins, let’s call it the Harley-Davidson Virtual Reality Motorcycle Simulator (HDVRMS).  Potential buyers would sit on a motorcycle mock up, place the headset on, grab the handlebars and the entire system is then hooked up to a computer programmed with virtual reality riding software/content.  This would be very high-quality footage in the motorcycle simulator.  Think UHD/4K video.  Basically, H-D would put multiple hi-rez cameras on the front/side/back of a motorcycle and ride it through the streets of Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles or through any national park or canyon road with twisties.  The footage would go to a digital film room for editing and then it would be incorporated into the computer system that would run the virtual-reality motorcycle simulator.

Imagine the possibilities.  Riding Highway 101 down the California coast.  Drag racing your favorite Pro Stock champion would be no problem.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle in downtown New Delhi dodging tiny rick-shaw’s full of banana trees.  No problem, select it in the computer and go.

Still not buying it?

How about the potential of integrating the technology into Harley-Davidson product development?  You can watch Ford’s virtual reality technology in action in this video.  Essentially, VR would allow Harley-Davidson to test scenarios and designs, and experience products before they are even made.

If not product development or supporting sales then there is the opportunity that an augmented reality motorcycle helmet could save your life.  Young motorcycle riders could attend motorcycle training on the H-D VR simulator so that they can hone their skills and become more proficient on the street.

FUSAR Technologies is doing just that on Kickstarter.  Called the Guardian, it’s a DOT approved helmet with an Android board, two wide-angle cameras and bits and pieces that is fully integrated and connected to the device and motorcycle that allows the motorcyclist to have a full cognitive awareness of what’s going on around them.

The one problem for Harley-Davidson?  It could become so real and addictive sitting in the comfort of the dealer or your home that you actually never get outdoors to ride!

Photos courtesy of Oculus Rift/ Sergey Galyonkin, HD and FUSAR

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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why-we-ride-graphicWith so much of the country in the grip of a Polar Vortex and with no letup in colder temperatures in sight, it might be timely to remind ourselves of why we ride.

No, this isn’t another post about wind chill, hypothermia, frostbite, loss of traction in freezing weather or impaired judgment due to cooling effects.  Nor is it about old grizzled guys on motorcycles making an excursion across the country as the Discovery Channel would like us to believe as reality.

I’m talking about the warmth of a roaring fire, and pulling out your favorite refreshment from the fridge and watching an inspiring film about a real motorcycle community.  Motorcyclists who live each day to the fullest on their two-wheeled machines.

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

why-rideLike many of you, I’m often ask why I ride? 

It’s a difficult thing to describe.  It’s about the camaraderie of the friends and families who ride together.  It’s about the uniqueness of the people you meet when riding is an adventure.  The connection to their stories and backgrounds.

I think riding depends on the context.  There are times when I feel good just standing next to my Harley or just looking at it because I just did something to it that I thought was a little bit different that spoke to me.  So, in that context I don’t even have to ride it to have a great experience. 

But, when I get out on the road obviously the nature of where I’m going colors the experience a little bit; riding in a city at night, riding in mountains in the morning, hugging a mountain pass road without guard rails or riding through a desert rain storm. 

I don’t know how best to describe it in words, but I like the energy of it.  I like just hitting the road as the wind washes over me and letting the stress of work bleed out.  There are a lot of dimensions in riding a motorcycle from the passion of the riders to the soul of their bikes and I’m sure that is what keeps so many people interested.

Why We Ride, is a documentary film that brings together the motorcycle community in a celebration of what it means to be a rider.  It’s a great film and now you can download it on iTunes or Amazon and enjoy all it has to offer this winter from the warmth of your home.   

There is nothing else like it.  In fact, this study suggests that riding a motorcycle will make you a happier person than the average!

Photo courtesy of Kretz Media Holdings, LLC

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

I delayed writing, not wanting to initially pile on, about the incident that occurred in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 29, involving an SUV driver and some motorcyclists.  But, I’ve received a number of emails on the topic and thought now was an appropriate  time to weigh in.

You might recall that the video (which was recently pulled down from YouTube), showed a dude riding a white sport bike who clearly pulled in front of the SUV and “brake checked” the driver.  The SUV is surrounded by bikers and had little space to maneuver, and bumped the white bike.  That seemed to be the issue that sparked a number of poor choices.  Later the rider was arrested and charged with “reckless endangerment, reckless driving, menacing and endangering the welfare of a child” and then bailed out.

My first thought is that if a rider chooses to brake check a SUV on a 3-lane highway within a few feet of the front bumper… getting hit is a reasonable expectation.  No motorcyclist deserves to get hit by a car and I’m not advocating the SUV driver was right in doing so.  There are a number of other videos posted by the same guy who put up that original SUV video, which indicates that riders were rolling down the sidewalk at speed, blowing a dozen red lights en masse, traveling on the wrong side of the road, and surrounded and beat on a Toyota Prius. 

It was an average Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride that started as a celebration to mark the end of the summer.  However, prior to the SUV incident, the police got notice of the massive riding group and set up checkpoints to inspect bikes and their riders at bridges and tunnels going into Manhattan. At least 15 people were arrested (mostly on vehicular charges), and 55 motorcycles were impounded which actually served to help break up the massive informal ride and sent splinter groups riding off in different directions.

We’ve all seen these “street stunt rides” where 100’s of motorcycles are observed forcing vehicles to stop or move to the side of the road while riders perform various “stunts” and record each other to then post onto the Web.  Unfortunately they’ve become fairly common.

I wasn’t there, but I was troubled by the serious injuries caused by the SUV driver and the escalating actions by some of the motorcyclists who apparently decided to take the law into their own hands.  

There is an estimated 27 million motorcyclists in America.  This incident, fueled by the media sensationalizing the story has helped create a false image of all motorcyclists in the general public and truly damaged the recreational sport.

Like many of you, I ride responsibly and do my part to represent motorcycling in a positive light.  And many of us who ride support rider education and are involved in rides to raise funds for charitable causes in our community.  Having a good friend recently be involved in a motorcycle accident with an automobile driver trying to “beat a red light” has made road safety, especially for motorcyclists, an acute concern to me and I don’t support the actions of this riding group.  On so many levels these motorcycle riders were wrong PERIOD.

Nobody deserves to be hit and the guy in the SUV might have been able to defused the situation, but not being there or knowing his frame of mind about the safety of his family, it’s not unreasonable to expect the SUV driver to panic and take off when surrounded by dozens of angry guys who have been riding very aggressive and reckless.

To date, four motorcyclists have been arrested with more arrests in-flight over this incident.  I would anticipate they will be used as a legal poster-child for a gang-like assault in court.

Photo courtesy of YouTube screen grab

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson Advertisement

Harley-Davidson Faux Advertisement

It makes a lasting impression in only seconds.   It’s provocative.

I’m talking about ads.

We see them every day, everywhere we go, whatever we do… advertisements for products and services plastered in front of our faces.

Good advertising “tricks” the average person into believing that they need a product or service even when they don’t, and the tricks are usually well-constructed.

This advertisement came to me via the Northwest Harley Blog Daily.  It is sublime and will have many motorcyclists wondering if they’ve gone too far.  After clicking on the “play” button my immediate thought was… “What am I watching?”  “Should I look away before something happens that I won’t be able to forget?”  Then you’re left wondering.

I can’t recommend watching it, but if you must the video advertisement is HERE.  The ad seems to focus less on particular features of the company’s products and more on the way these products are used.  Maybe it’s different in your part of the world, but I’m not exactly sure the message or what product is being “evangelized”…  it’s likely I missed the point, but some of the choices might be:

  1. A Harley will make a man out of you!
  2. Even a cross dresser wants a Harley?
  3. Someone who adopts the dress of the opposite sex wants a man or woman on a Harley?
  4. A new stylish dress and Clothing line launch for Ladies of Harley®?

There are times when I can be influenced by advertising techniques.  Although creative, this is not one of them!

Photo courtesy of Jung Chantme.  Harley-Davidson has stated they are targeting all demographics, but the odds of this being an officially sponsored deal is remote.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Riding Down A Dirt Road

This is a sea change.  It’s some of the highest quality and best video story telling I believe Harley-Davidson has ever created – bar none.  Props to the marketing group and more importantly the agency, Campfire NYC, who are the creative storytelling folks behind this marketing experience.

The motor company has taken a unique and interesting approach on the motorcycle culture through the lens of its new “Harley-Davidson: The Ridebook.”

“The Ridebook” takes a look at the different people within the Harley culture.

The first video (HERE) in the series is about the Tomcats Barbershop in Brooklyn, NY.  Tomcats is co-owned by Joey Covington and Alex Melnichenko and has become the go-to place for motorcyclists to get 1950s-era haircuts.

Harley-Davidson plans to release a new video in “The Ridebook” series every week for the next five weeks.  The motor company described the “Ridebook” as:

“A riding manual from the voice of those few who cherish the search for a new scenery with the wind in their face. A glimpse into a stripped down lifestyle, free of the clutter and filled with style, quality, and the essentials.”

The next video in the “Ridebook” is called the HD Archive (By The Selvedge Yard), which will explore the Harley’s home in Milwaukee. Future videos include Bike Anatomy, Ghost Town U.S.A., H-D Vintage Fashion, and Open Air Playlist.

Watch the videos and be enlightened!

Dirt Road photo courtesy Hog Killers, Hawaiian Gardens, CA., Ridebook courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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