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Posts Tagged ‘Wild Hogs’

You see it all the time…companies involved in cross-promotion or product placement deals for television and/or films.  High-tech companies are the worst in pushing products including Apple Computers, which must have a warehouse full of MacBooks for their “hired-out-for-loan” program in exchange for exposure.  From the first Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible to Fox’s “24″, Apple must outspend all other PC companies in product placement and is perhaps more active in this area than any other technology company.  Product placement has become a significant source of revenue for media companies and I would assume that manufactures compensate the producers in some manner.

I think my first exposure to product placement (that I remember) was while watching Steve McQueen steal a Triumph from the Nazis and chasing himself around the fields of Germany in The Great Escape, the finest motorcycle sequence ever filmed, in my humble viewpoint and I didn’t know for years that Bud Ekins made the big jump.

However, after recently seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull it would seem that Harley-Davidson is joining the product placement cult.  Just like in the movie “Wild Hogs” which had both “product placement” for a physical product as well as self-promotion for a media property (Extreme Makeover – Home Edition),  when Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) speeds through the college campus with Harrison Ford riding “bitch”, it was on a Harley.  By the way I think stunt rider Lee Morrison is one of the best motorcycle riders on the planet! 

But what type motorcycles were they using?  The two-wheeled star of the movie is a 2007 Softail Springer Classic that was modified to look “period correct” — from 50 years ago.  Harley supplied Lucasfilm with the bikes and requested that they be recognizable as a Harley, however, the bike’s builder, Justin Kell, stated that he modeled them to be a postwar Knucklehead and did a lot more than just put 1955-56 tank badges on them.  Modern improvements were necessarily left intact on the motorcycles because the bikes were used to do high-speed stunts in the film.

Because of product placement deals the film had to use new bikes.  A total of five bikes were built for the film, one of which was an effects bike that was destroyed in the course of filming and two of the remaining bikes will be returned to Harley-Davidson, which plans to display them in the new motorcycle museum, opening July 12th in Milwaukee. The remaining two others were purchased by the production company.

The chase scenes move rather fast and many people won’t notice, but astute bikers likely noticed the belt drive in the campus chase scene.  Also the not-so “period correct” bikes had a disc brake on the front wheel, dual throttle cables, a “Twin Cam” engine along with modern grip/hand controls, including a starter button when it was seen being kick-started earlier in the movie.

I wonder where we’ll see Harley placement next?  To me, Wild Hogs and now Indiana Jones is a new high (or new low, depending on your perspective) in marketing strategy. I checked out the movie web site and there are plenty of games, promotions and activities to satisfy the interactive mind – expected for a film such as this. What I was surprised not to find was a tie-in to Harley-Davidson for a ‘Wreck a Hog’ simulation game, since they blatantly promote the destruction of the motorcycle in the film.   

Harley did sink rather low…I found a “Motor Wheels Mutt” licensing deal for a toy tie-in back to Harley on the Burger King site.

 

Train photo courtesy of Lucasfilms.

Motor Wheels Mutt courtesy of Burger King

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Contrary to some of the comments on previous posts, I’m really not on a rant about motorcycle gangs or evangelizing that riders join any Rotary Club on wheels. 

I have noticed that there is a renewed interest and a lot of media attention surrounding television shows on outlaw biker gangs.  These shows follow two types of stereotypes, the bad evil biker dudes or the cuddly “Wild Hogs“.  The latest is the FX cable network which ordered up 13-episodes of the drama series called “Sons of Anarchy,” which centers on an outlaw biker “club” and how the club’s efforts to protect its home in fictional Charming, Calif., from suburbanization.

The show was originally called “Forever Sam Crow”,  however, the litigation happy Hells Angels caught wind of the pilot from Kurt Sutter (writer & director) who was in a Variety interview and there were references to a specific Northern CA. motorcycle “club”…shortly after the interview hit the newswire they received a cease and desist notice from the same “club”.  Something about copyright infringement so, the name of the TV show and club was changed.

This is reminiscent of last years lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of CA where the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation claimed the characters in the Disney movie “Wild Hogs” were identified as members of the “club”.  I don’t know about you, but Dudley didn’t make me nervous sporting leather clad gear and a do-rag.

And then there’s HBO’s show under development called “1%” from “The Player” writer Michael Tolkin about a biker “club” in small-town Arizona.  The outlaw biker gang phenomenon has always made for interesting debate, but with the media getting involved things have gotten dicey because some of the actual places named and used in the script were identifiably associated with Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels (such as the primary location being Carefree, AZ, which is the town adjacent to where Barger presently resides, and that the principal character moved there from Northern CA, which is what Barger did too).  Barger’s production company pulled out the litigation play book and sued HBO in Los Angeles.  The 60-year old wants the court to declare the “1% Script” as a joint work with Tolkin, enjoin Tolkin and HBO from selling or exhibiting the program, and award compensatory damages for exploiting Barger’s publicity rights.  Fritz Clapp is Barger’s attorney to the complaint (courtesy of Reporter blog) contends that the script was developed with Barger’s collaboration, however, HBO, the White Mountain Company, and writer/producer Michael Tolkin cut him out of the project and violated his publicity rights when he demanded changes.

Whether you’re a biker “club” (as members say), a gang (as police allege), or a syndicate (as federal agents charge) one thing is clear… do-gooder philanthropists donating to toys-for-tots doesn’t sell anything.  But, marauding drug dealers, corruption, crime, murder and mayhem sells advertising and that’s what this is all about.  Media companies serving up another dish of nightly violent entertainment for middle-Americans about jack-booted thugs posing as celebrities who are either misunderstood or maligned to get you to buy another tube of toothpaste.

I’m thinking Fox should have a “Biker Gang Survival” channel.  Let’s call it “American Loser”…the show will make millions!

 

Photo is courtesy of Kurt Sutter blog.

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