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Harley Feeling The Heat...?

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Interesting article on hdforums regarding the new advertizing campaign.




by Brian (Schumacher) Zerkel


Is this a wise move by Harley, and are they trying to shed the image that sells their motorcycles?


The Moco's new campaign has certainly stirred up a lot of emotions up in the forums, re-igniting the biker vs non-biker fight all over again. Considering in the recent months and years Harley has been fully embracing the bad boy look (hence the Dark Custom series and Willie G line), this to me seems to be an odd direction to take for their advertising.


People from all walks of life already buy Harley Davidsons. The people portrayed in the commercial are the ones already buying the majority of the clothing and accessories. So does Harley think their products come with a stigma? It would seem so with these new "anti-biker" biker commercials. You know what a Harley is when you buy it. People know the historical ties with the bikes.....the racing, the clubs, the violence. Heck, most of that is what sells the bikes in the first place. I don't live the 1% lifestyle, and I've never felt the need to be vindicated for owning a Harley Davidson. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting one.


Unless I'm wrong, we all ride Harleys because they're Harleys. They aren't the cheapest bikes in the world, but you can find something for under 4K if you really want one. Yes, people buy them to play dress up, and yes, people have been riding them for years, and finally yes, people ride them because they are motorcyclists and enjoy the brand.


I believe that everyone who currently wants a Harley pretty much has one already. So why the need to start a campaign like this? As I posted in the forum, possibly they're looking for a new influx of buyers, a group that is currently spending a lot of money on a certain other American brand.


Then plays in the stigma. One can not deny that american brand "V" is steadily eating into Harley sales, and proving itself a viable motorcycle manufacturer. Harley must be noticing this and is firing the first shot back in the advertising war. I think they are trying to reach out to the V buyer and others saying, "Normal people can ride Harleys too". With this changing direction in it's marketing, perhaps they are finally cluing in to what a lot of people have been saying about the moco for some time now. This will bring some new buyers as one might figure, but probably not the numbers that marketing told them it would.


I think Victory buyers are a much different group. A lot of them that I met online couldn't stand Harley, and the ones I meet in person are buying them because of their technology and because they are American. To grab this audience, Harley will have to do more than make commercials. They'll have to come up with some new motorcycles and a new power plant to match it of some sort. There's no reason Harley couldn't build a state of the art air-cooled v-twin and slip it into a brand new frame. Put that 100 years to use and don't ask for the Germans help this time.


I personally don't think they are losing on their image, but they are losing on something else entirely. There is a market for a fully updated Harley, but I'm not sure that they quite grasp it. New models like the Switchback are encouraging, but we can only hope there are more entirely different models coming soon.


So if my hunch is right, Harley sees what might be coming. With the return of an affordable Indian on the horizon, they feel the wind a-blowin.


That's Shumachers take, but what do you guys think? Sound off in the forums!

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