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Posts Tagged ‘Miller’

He’s a preacher’s son, a perpetual optimist, and in a nod to the “Imported from Wisconsin” team he rides a Harley-Davidson Road King.

I’m talking about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who pledged a “return to frugality in government.”

Harley motorcycles and government frugality are two things I can rally behind, but just 6-weeks into his term, the badger state protesters, mostly public-sector workers have seized the same building and are comparing the governor to Hitler and Darth Vader.

The trigger?  A bill which would reduce most public-sector workers of their union rights and pare back their benefits. The protesters interpreted “frugality” as code for “union busting” and erupted into dueling rallies and slogan chants.

In my overly basic description, unions have two sides.  One is the great positive influence on democracy of people banding together for equal and fair treatment by employers.  The other is the misuse of that power to force too many concessions from employers, or become unreasonable about the union making concessions when economic conditions have changed.  In fact, watching the teachers demonstrate in Wisconsin I wonder how all these people obtained college degrees because a 6th grader understands that if you have $50 in the bank, you can’t withdraw $500.  Can they spell bankruptcydeficit, or foreclosure?  And if your taxes are increased (suggested by legislatures who like gov. welfare programs and want someone else to pay for them), will you have more money or less to spend?

“Frugal” may describe Gov. Walker, but for many Americans we’re in ‘frugal fatigue’ fearing a job loss any day, coping with rising health care costs and hoping for any opportunity to break the economic gridlock and return to the good ‘ol days of 2005.

Take Harley-Davidson who was on a high-speed-train to utter collapse.  They had to reduce labor costs and gain worker flexibility to remain competitive in the new economy.  They stated it would move operations from Milwaukee to Kansas City if it did not get a new union contract with lots of worker concessions. They also had threatened to move operations from York to Shelbyville, Ky., if it could not get a contract in York.  The company never blinked and I don’t think it was an empty threat of playing one location against another, and the reality was they have the capability of moving if they want too — anytime.  The company wasn’t expecting much and didn’t get any pushback from the unions given the dismal job market and in the past 22 months, Harley-Davidson has negotiated competitive labor contracts with the unions, exited non-core brands, expanded internationally, rebuilt its balance sheet, and addressed the scarcity value of the brand.

Will there be fewer people employed at $35.00 an hour to manufacture a H-D motorcycle?  Yes,  but this wasn’t some proud attempt at “union busting” by the company management.  It was about survival of the company and for the remaining few people employed it was about work or do without!

So, for all the Wisconsin fans and Wisconsonites in these troubling times – for the love of the Super Bowl champions, Bucky the badger and of course, the beer (Pabst, Schiltz, Miller and Blatz) – can we all just agree and get united to pitch in a bit more on health care and retirement benefits like the rest of us in the non-public, non-union job sectors and break the gridlock?!

Photo courtesy of WI., collective bargaining rights protestors.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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wrigley_scooterDo you remember the beer maker days of yesterday where the desperation for our refreshment $$ ran so high they needed to exposed us to, two voluptuous young women with pounds of bouncing exposed cleavage who got in a “Catfight” that ended with wrestling in wet cement before falling into a sultry kiss?

I do.  The advertisement fell under the “Miller Time” umbrella and was a Miller Brewing Co. embarrassment — a term I use advisedly — the cleavage, the clothes ripping and the wrestling match had significant fallout and beer makers around the globe were obliged to declare a moratorium on female objectification. And, sure enough, the cheesecake disappeared, briefly…  As a marketing guy my first encountered with “Catfight,” made me doubly embarrassed — first that a mainstream company could be so cheap and vulgar with no real message, and secondly that I leered appreciatively at the TV babes. 

wrigleyLast week Harley-Davidson announced hiring of a communications heavyweight to run the company’s overall global, strategic communications initiatives.  A former Kohl’s and Miller Brewing Co. marketing executive Susan Henderson (56) is now VP of corporate communications.  Henderson most recently held the same position at Wm. Wrigley Jr…. the Spearmint gum guys.  Henderson is replacing Kathleen Lawler, who is retiring.  I found it odd that there is no Harley-Davidson press release announcing the hire of a Communications VP?

So how long do you think it will be before we see “Harley Time” ad’s which appeal to men aged 21 to 27, the prime beer-drinking market and same demographic that Harley is recruiting? Maybe it’s time to put a Harley “spin” on it and bring back the Old Milwaukee Swedish “Bikini Team“…one of the most contentious ads ever for a mainstream consumer product.  Has everyone forgotten how angry women were about that commercial? 

I’m thinking of an ad campaign around the love of riding while chewing gum because it tastes great and freshens your breath, but also has the additional benefits of keeping bugs out of your mouth and losing weight.  Yeah I know… not nearly provocative enough is it?  That’s why I’m not an ad guy.

Photo courtesy of Wrigley web site.

 

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That’s the way I imagine it was in 1933.  It was 75 years ago today that the drink that made Milwaukee famous was made legal again.  

The home of Harley had many breweries (go figure – mixing bikes and beers?!), including Milwaukee’s own Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst.  They all celebrated the occasion by sending their first cases of beer to the White House for President Franklin Roosevelt.  Before national prohibition could be officially repealed, President Roosevelt signed legislation called the “Cullen-Harrison Act” (also know as the Beer Revenue Act) that went into effect on April 7, 1933.  It allowed the public the ability to legally drink beer 8 months before the amendment could be formally repealed.  Not only did this make a lot of people happy, it also helped stimulate the nations struggling economy.

These days it’s much different.  You walk into a bar room and you’re lucky not to be stopped and asked to sign waivers.  But that’s not the case behind Jim’s Tap in Brookings, S.D.  For 25 years now, motorcyclists have lined up one day a year behind Jim’s Tap and ride the Harley’s through the bar and out the front door. They come from hundreds of miles away for a few seconds that look very much like a scene from a movie.

In celebration I had a light beer with dinner tonight.

Photo is courtesy of Anheuser Busch.

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