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Advert in 2012 – Nothing can replace the real one. Use original Harley-Davidson parts.

Halloween’s coming, and with it “mischief night”—which means it’s the season for pranks.  And being on a Friday night this year means egged houses and toilet-papered trees are the order of the day for the mischievous.

Did you know that Harley-Davidson has been pulling clever pranks for years?  All with the intent of snagging the attention of often-distracted online observers/customers.

This phenomenon, has a name now—“prankvertising”—which has really ramped up in recent years, perhaps because of Halloween or maybe because agencies like doing the unorthodox and testing consumer limits.

The photo with this blog post is an in your face example that mashes all the politically incorrect buttons.  Some would debate it provides confirmation of how completely out of touch Harley-Davidson is or was in deploying this image as a visual ‘joke.’

Is the motorcycle culture’ a petri dish of people who know so little about human social interaction and how professional life works that advertising agencies can concoct up this stuff straight-faced, thinking there are no consequences?

I’m sure some of you will view this as demeaning, insulting and extremely sexist. Harley-Davidson on the other hand and their agency (Big), didn’t think they were objectifying or exploiting women in this ad or even blink by portraying women and comparing them to a motorcycle part, and picturing them as sex toys.

Full Disclosure:  My initial reaction when I first saw the ad and tag line, “Nothing can replace the real one. Use original Harley-Davidson parts,” was to laugh out loud and marvel at the clever humor, but then political correctness kicked in and I made a note that advertising agencies should really realize their responsibility towards society and their target audience.  Given Harley-Davidson’s significant outreach to the woman demographic for motorcycle sales it’s highly unlikely you’ll see something like this again.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Big, İstanbul, Turkey

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson Out-Performers

The 1970 Harley-Davidson Out-Performers

In the last few years Harley-Davidson has been known to confront stereotypes in their advertising.

Think “E Pluribus Unum” campaign which means “Out of many, one”, and it is promoting the uniqueness of the Harley-Davidson riders.  Or how about the “No Cages” campaign which puts “real” Harley riders in the spotlight, to reinforce the image of what you think about motorcycle riders.

If nothing else the motor company should get credit, it does have a highly developed capacity to adapt their business to change.  In the mid-70’s, A.M.F. went too far when it replaced the Harley name with its own.  Apparently unaware of the magnitude of that marketing decision.

What kept Harley going in those dark days, and what is driving it now, is the fact that the motorcycle it makes is not just a product, but rather the centerpiece of a lifestyle, “Hook”.

So on #TBT (Throwback Thursday) here is a 1970 advert about how Harley-Davidson was Out-performing!

Photo courtesy of H-D and Adbranch.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Gold top 10 winnerIt’s that time of year when folks are getting ready to ring in the New Year and its customary to provide a Top 10 list.

I decided to pull together a nostalgic list of some of the more ridiculous Harley-Davidson executive quotes.  There are some doozies and it makes a person wonder if they were cocktail chatter or actually written down and prepped by the PR team.  Honestly, it was difficult to narrow it down to just ten, but here they are: 

  1. “I would be really upset if you felt our strategy was about “meeting the nicest people on a Harley” because I can tell you that ain’t the strategy…” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  2. “These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  3. Little did we know we were doing a cross-promotion with God.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  4. “‘Come Together’ is not merely a song in our [advert] spot – it’s an anthem for our relationship with our fans.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  5. “We don’t do trend bikes, or fashion-statement motorcycles. We try to make something that will last forever.” **Brian Nelson, lead stylist on Project RUSHMORE  (Source: HERE)
  6. “I couldn’t care less if I ever wore a tie again.” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell  (Source: HERE)
  7. “None of us get up every morning and want to make people’s lives miserable and see people lose their jobs. If you think that’s the case, I apologize.”  Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell  (Source: HERE)
  8. “We can’t survive on our core customers alone.” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell (Source: HERE)
  9. “The safety of our customers is our highest priority,” Harley General Manager of Motorcycle New Product Delivery Tony Wilcox (Source: HERE)
  10. “We think it’s a dichotomy” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell (Source: HERE)

There it is.  Do you have any memorable quotes to add to the list?

**Note: Mr. Nelson (#5) is not a company executive.

Photo courtesy of Sam Churchill.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HD-Ad-ChristmasYou might be a spammer if you send a holiday e-card.

And I’ve received several from Harley-Davidson and the dealer network disguised as ads.  Nothing says your cheap and out of date more than sending a holiday e-card, especially if there is no personalization involved and it’s really evangelizing discount specials.  You look like some tech retard who doesn’t realize fads come and go and you’ve just dated yourself to 1999.

And don’t e-mail me every day unless you have something to say.  Don’t Facebook me either saying you’ve got something “FASCINATING”…  yet, there it is, another photo advert on “The Wall” or dealer email message or tweet.  I mean if I don’t know you, should I really be on your Christmas list?

Tigard-adSome of us are old enough to remember that once upon a time there was a company called CDNow. It sold CDs over the Internet. You remember CDs, right?  Those shiny discs that were supposed to have the ultimate sound and last forever.

Anyway, CDNow put out a newsletter every 3-months which generated a lot of money.  Then the company went public and in an effort to boost financial numbers sent two newsletters a quarter. They continued to do very well.  To make the story shorter, by the time they were done, CDNow was sending a newsletter every week. And then they were done, the company went into decline and was sold to Bertelsmann.

The audience tuned out.

salem-adIf you’ve got something interesting to say and an audience that wants to hear it, by all means reach out. But if you’re just trying to generate sales, trying to monopolize your audience’s mind, be careful about how often you intrude on them. It’s the best way to turn people off. Banging at their digital door again and again and again.

We pull in today’s world and we hate push.  Yet, there’s an incredible amount of PUSH going on at Harley-Davidson.  It’s especially challenging this year since more of it is combined with their collective dealer network and HOG activities.  It’s an endless stream of “look-at-me” attempts.  Show me someone who love’s commercials and I’ll show you someone who works at a TV network.

Listen up Harley-Davidson marketing… If you’re selling first, most people are ignoring you.  Build the relationship.  Nurture the relationship.  And know that everybody on the other end is an individual, with feelings and desires.

There is a flip side of Internet access. The ability to tune out unreasonable spam.  If you continue to be a culprit then you might be sending it, but no one is listening or checking it out.

Photo’s courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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"No Cages" Advertising

It’s official.

The first work from Harley-Davidson’s new ‘hookup’ with Boulder, CO.-based crowdsourcing agency Victor & Spoils has debuted on YouTube.  The consumer-created spot was born of a new agency model that H-D adopted after parting with longtime agency Carmichael Lynch last year.

Watch the YouTube video HERE.

Congrats and a shout out to Whit Hiler, the Kentuckian who’d submitted the “No Cages” original idea that is also part of Harley’s HD1 factory customization program in which buyers can design their own rides.

It’s an old and improved formula, but it doesn’t make me want to part with my cash!  Maybe you will?  It doesn’t have that viral feel where people are watching the video and then instantly going to Twitter and Facebook, to start a dialogue.

We live in an “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars” culture, where speed to stardom and availability of technology makes about anyone a creative director. And this video has a get it done fast, good enough is good enough look.   In the internet world, where everything happens now, this is anathema.  Everything’s here today, gone tomorrow.  Like a lot of advertising these days, the big idea is lost and the execution is vanilla.  I would have thought that V&S’s multiple years of experience would have vetted out the creative gold-nuggets from the train-wreck incarnate.

This creative spot wreaks of ratings/hits, not quality and has a race to the bottom mentality.  Mr. Richer, isn’t this how Pontiac died?!  Is it time for a mea culpa?  When you contrast how the big middle finger of rebellion helped build this brand and now advertising which has been replaced with me-too imitation…  It’s got to be about the long haul.  Not overnight success, but enduring success.  Forget about genres.  Just be good.

I’m still a fan of H-D, but not for this ad.

UPDATE: February 16, 2011 – Mark-Hans Richer (H-D CMO) told in an interview to Ad Age: “We’re really happy with the way it  [“Cages”] came out…”

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Think Snow Bumpersticker - HD Advertising (circa: 1972-74)

It was a big year for Harley-Davidson as they shifted from downsizing, labor agreements and weathering the recession to now looking forward to growth in 2011.  With freezing temperature and snow falling in many parts of the U.S., I’ve compiled some 2010 highlights to provide you some entertainment as you warm up with hot chocolate:

January
1.    Downtown H-D Renton, WA., one of the northwest dealers named among top 100 (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D reported its first quarterly loss since 1993 (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D announces the new, but “old” Forty-Eight Sportster (Link: HERE)

February
1.    H-D donates 28 new Buell and H-D motorcycles to assist in the earthquake disaster (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D marketing continues to pitch brand with young-rebel-with-tats ethos (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D internal documents indicate 382,000 absenteeism hours in the factories (Link: HERE)

March
1.    H-D promotes danger as Seth Enslow breaks Bubba Blackwell’s jump record (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D dealer (Shumate) in Kennewick, WA., closes under a mountain of debt. (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell 2009 compensation package becomes public as the $6M dollar man (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D marketing pulls out all stops on innovation and launches Super Ride II (Link: HERE)

April
1.    H-D consolidates motorcycle testing in Arizona Proving Grounds (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D files mass layoff notice with Wisconsin department of workforce development (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell is “encouraged” as Q1 motorcycle sales revenue declines 20% YOY (Link: HERE)
4.    After 26 years of service Bill Davidson is put in charge of the Museum (Link: HERE)

May
1.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell states in interview that H-D is like GM…a fading American industrial might (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D threatens to leave the state of Wisconsin (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CMO, Mark-Hans Richer is no man crush of this blog (Link: HERE)

June
1.    H-D launches XR1200 Refresh (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D launches Wii based-game: “Road Trip” (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D at the National Law Enforcement Museum (Link: HERE)

July
1.    H-D opens Hyderabad, India showroom to pandemonium (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D reports Q2 earnings with financial services being largest money maker (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D launches the 2011 model lineup of 32 bikes vs. 38 the prior year (Link: HERE)

August
1.    H-D announces closure of sidecar business which operated since 1914 (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D announces 1-MILLION fans on Facebook (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D sold back MV Agusta to its previous owners (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D announces that after 31 years they’ve parted ways with PR firm Carmichael Lynch (Link: HERE)

September
1.    Erik Buell releases teaser ads promoting a new street bike based on 1190RR (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D gives away free posters of any of their 32 models (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D under threat of moving out of state announces ratified 7-year labor agreement (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D “spins” the fact that massive branding efforts result in a 24% brand value decline (Link: HERE)

October
1.    H-D reports Q3 earnings with motorcycle sales declining 7.7% worldwide and 14.4% in the U.S. (Link: HERE)

November
1.    H-D management “negotiates” with Kansas City plant to accept a new labor agreement or we’ll leave state (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D turns down a $25M tax credit deal by Wisconsin State (Link: HERE)

December
1.    H-D never disclosed a $2.3 BILLION deal with Federal Reserve (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D announces first ever “Crowd Sourcing” for new marketing ideas (Link: HERE)

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HOG Bank

Start with the “charisma and swagger” of Charlie Sheen, add a little Lady Gaga recklessness, mix it all together with the sensibility of John Mayer, and you’re well on your way to a vibrant digital marketing campaign.

Or at least that’s what Harley-Davidson’s, CMO, Mark-Hans Richer seems to believe.

Taking a page from celebrities and musicians who blazed the path before them they’ve embarked on a crowd-sourcing recipe with Victors & Spoils, a Boulder-based crowd sourcing agency who intends to deliver successful digital marketing.  It would seem that every American company on the planet is amassing a rapidly growing list of crowd sourcing digital data to give marketers an even more precise method for targeting their ad messages to specific consumers.

I know, you hate social media.  More people despise Twitter than use it.  You thought Foursquare was a church.  You like Facebook, but you fear its Big Brother qualities.

Well, you probably don’t understand that Twitter is the number one news source for news happening right now.  But if you can’t wrap your head around that, maybe you should look into SproutSocial, which allows you to track your company in social media.  And if you don’t think social media is key to any company’s future, you’re on the road to extinction.

Mr. Richer totally gets it.  H-D has a multi-generational and multicultural customer strategy with a need to get potential customers more engaged in the brand.

You do that through social media.  But, part of the problem for the motor company is its audience knows too many people, who connect with each other online.  Once consumers start talking to each other not only do they spread the word about the so-called “motorcycle lifestyle,” but they also let each other know which products are good and which ones are bad.  Suddenly, the dealers can no longer jam any old product down the motorcycle riding public’s throat.  It’s bad enough when new products leak in advance and are dead on arrival due to bad word of mouth, but even those that make it to the release date intact are not guaranteed sales.  Because by the end of the week, the target audience knows whether the product is worth owning via references from friends.

It all comes down to who you know.

But, the reason I’m writing this is because of the job market.  Unemployment.  It’s steady at 10.5% here in Oregon.  About a point above the national average and has remained there most of the past year.  Just this past week the Oregonian reported another 300 layoffs by 3 different companies closing down operations.  And if that wasn’t enough did you happen to catch Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last night on 60 Minutes?  He painted a grim picture.  Stating that the U.S. recovery is still not self-sustaining while defended his $600B bond purchase to help keep interest rates low.  Heady stuff.

Oregon and U.S. Unemployment - Dec 2010

I hate to frighten you, but all your partying and drunken pictures are going to work against you in the job market. Inebriation is not a criterion for employment, not even at Miller Brewing.  You see you’re building your resume every day online.  And whether you can get a job or not is based on this resume and who you know.  People always complain how they can’t get a job in this industry or that industry because they aren’t connected.  Hate to tell you, but it just got worse!  No one’s going to hire anyone without a history, who can’t be recommended by someone.  The days of placing a blind ad and taking on all comers is history.  That doesn’t even work on Craigslist, and have you seen the type of jobs on that site lately?

If you want to succeed in the future, you’ve got to know people.  Who can vouch for you.  Ever get called for a reference?  You never lie if you know the caller, it’s your reputation on the line.   And now that we’re all networked through social media, there’s always someone who knows you, who if they won’t say something negative, certainly won’t say something positive.

And you thought you were just playing online?  You see we all live in a social media world.  Scary huh?!  And as if to help prove my point the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was also interviewed and talked about changes coming in a redesign.  For example, instead of a single profile picture, people who visit your page will soon see a row of photos you’ve been recently tagged in.

It might be time to start making deposits in the persona-curating bank account…

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson, SocialSprouts and Google.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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