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hd-ride-on_aotwWhat confidence can give, lack of confidence can just as suddenly take away when it comes to financial conditions.

And that couldn’t be more true for Harley-Davidson’s international sales.  The international sales for the motor company primarily come from Europe, but its contribution to the total sales has been consistently declining.  Europe accounted for about 15% of unit sales last quarter, and the macro-economic conditions are so weak in Europe that there is very little Harley-Davidson can do to boost sales.

As a result, the “red phone” rang in the marketing department and Harley-Davidson worked with an advertising agency, Big Communications in London, to whip up a call-to-arms and encourage bikers to RIDE ON through the economic storm. Unless you lived under the proverbial rock, you may recall that back in 2008 at the height of the deep recession in the U.S., Harley-Davidson rolled out the “We don’t do fear”… “Screw it, let’s ride” campaign.

airplane-HD-AdThere was a time not so long ago in the U.S. that most economic indicators showed it was being hollowed out and the only economic activity that remained was food, power and undertakers.  The press wrote daily about how an economic doomsday was coming.  Those with expertise in economics told us that, without a doubt, the world is heading for financial Armageddon, or an economic ice age.  Basically the world’s gone to pot… and they weren’t talking about Washington state!

It now appears that the road ahead for motorcycle riders on the European continent (with apologies to science fiction writers everywhere) have just passed the “point of no return.”  Metaphorically, they don’t have enough fuel to return to the point of origin, and they just discovered they don’t have enough fuel to reach a planned destination.  The economy and society could very well end up in ashes.

In plain English and in the Harley-Davidson parlance of our time: You’re screwed so, why not whistle while you RIDE ON through the storm and enjoy the view until the fuel runs out!

Yawn…  Harley-Davidson has inspired so much more in interesting ads like the empty road version above.  It’s not clear to me why the marketing group thinks they need to go back to an old call-to-arms ad style like “Ride On.”

Photo courtesy of Big Communications and H-D.

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