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Practicing the piano for 10-years does not make you creative.  It just allows you to replicate what’s been done before.

I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but for some reason I’m reminded of Harley-Davidson and the debut of their 2011 models.

I can neither confirm or deny that I’ve been busy testing a sample of the 2011 H-D motorcycles.  I cannot confirm or deny that I’ve signed a NDA/embargo agreement to not disclose, either in print or talk about what the good folks at Harley-Davidson have been up to until July 27, 2010 – the date that the company will roll out some new thunder.

The plant is filled with journeymen, skilled at their jobs, but the motorcycle models are not famous. Because to be famous you’ve got to make jaws drop, people have to forego crucial financial activities in order to invest in H-D motorcycle ownership, people have to want to tell others about your brand.  In order to succeed you’ve got to innovate.  It requires perspiration and it demands inspiration.  I’m talking about innovating in such a way that a large percentage of the motorcycle riding public cares.

We’re in a era of marketing.  Because it’s so easy.  Go online and tell your story.  Start a Facebook page, upload some stop-action videos and evangelize to the ADHD 20-somthings.  Tweet about anything and everything.  But, isn’t it interesting that as more motorcycle manufactures go online trying to sell, fewer motorcycles are moving…both sales-wise and emotionally.  The key isn’t about putting a motorcycle in front of people.   It’s about creating something so good that it builds its own audience.  It’s an incredible challenge.  To employ a classic art form, include pop references, but come up with something new.  So new that the new thing excites us, that not only makes our blood boil, but makes us want to tell everyone.  So good it gets inside your psyche and affects you…not like the lasting power of a popsicle.

For so long the basic tools have been ignored and Harley-Davidson has taken the easy way out.  It’s been about marketing an image or brand over product innovation and their spot in the firmament is at risk.  They’ve always been good about building relationships, but too much of the H-D model line-up can be denied.  You can play that “tune” for a friend and they just ignored it.

The 2011 models need to tap us on the shoulder lightly and then wrap itself around our heart.  In other words, be so good we can’t ignore you…

Photo courtesy of Deviantart.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Sam Worthington (Jake Sully) -- Avatar

We’re always being told how moviegoers set new revenue records during the holiday.

Last weekend not only did the movie industry set the largest single weekend at the box office with three movies topping over $50M each, the blockbuster film from James Cameron, ‘Avatar’ set a new 10 day gross total of $212.7M.  Maybe that doesn’t mean anything to you, but how about the fact that the movie has more than 400,000 fans on Facebook?

And though no motorcycles were featured in the movie Harley-Davidson managed to secure a primo clothing promotion from Sam Worthington’s character (Jake Sully) who established an “outlaw” biker image in wearing a H-D logo laden t-shirt in a bar.  More than just a product placement it instantly helped create a rebellious tough guy tone with the audience.  To be candid, I’m not sure I would associate a biker bad boy image with a $35 t-shirt, but like I said it’s a movie.  More important it represents a rare opportunity for Harley-Davidson—a window if you will of opportunity—to be part of something successful and catch some PR/marketing buzz!

Sam Worthington is well known for movie parts with ties to motorcycles.  In Terminator Salvation he played a terminator with amnesia that had motorcycle killing machines based on Ducati’s Hypermotard.  Footage is featured on Ducati’s website, showing the motorcycle terminators being put through their paces during filming.

I’m a fan of James Cameron who is famous for writing and directing successful movies such as Terminator, Aliens and Titanic.  However, as people dropped $15 of their hourly income to absorb the 3D cinematography in ‘Avatar’ — I can’t help but think he’ll be remembered more for being an arrogant ass and reinforcing I’m “privileged” and above the fray.  TMZ posted a video of an alleged “fan” seeking Mr. Cameron’s autograph on an ‘Avatar‘ poster at LAX.  The man is snubbed, threatened and called an ass by the famous and privileged director.  Nice.  Way to put your fans first.

Trying to smooth over the situation musical artist John Mayer wrote a nearly 1,000-word essay on his blog standing up for Mr. Cameron’s a’tude and basically stating it’s okay to be above the fray and crap on the hoi polloi or just ignore the teeming masses… Homey don’t play that no more John.  Never having met the man who ask for Mr. Cameron’s signature, John Mayer quickly assumed he was an e-bay whore.  Now isn’t that fascinating.  Cool that you have an opinion, but talk about the pot calling the kettle black…did you ever stop to think that selling yourself out to corporations and shilling products works for more than just a musician?  Hypothetically even if the guy was going to sell it on e-bay.  So what?  Step down from your mega-million-$$ ivory towers and mix with the regular people.  How much do you think H-D paid Cameron to use that t-shirt?!

Celebrities and musicians are beholden to their audience, the public, and the consumers.  And despite the undeniable pain of the global recession we have been willing to plunk down hard earned $$ to keep you famous for another fifteen minutes!   We’ll forgive the mistake… make apologies and continue to try and get it right in the future.  If not, then we all live with brand new rules because it’s an era of immediacy and 24 hour news cycles.  You’re now in the pit with your customers and if you want to escape the groupies then you’ll have to live in a bathroom with the lights out!

Photo courtesy of Fox.

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