Harley-Davidson Soon On The Big And Small Screen… And On Your Smart Phone…And In Video Games.

harleymovietheater100% of the population knows the Harley-Davidson brand, but only 3 percent of U.S. consumers own a motorcycle. So, Harley-Davidson is starting a new communication strategy using  entertainment to – as Dino Bernacchi, Director of Advertising, Promotions and Entertainment for Harley-Davison states –  “sensationalize the excitement and thrill of riding to the point of moving people to check the brand out”. Harley, like many other major brands, has used in the past “product placement” in movies, a technique consisting of paying a production company to use/show your products in a film.

But Harley has decided to use this technique as the core of their new marketing push. Of course, it includes non only big screen movies but also TV series, documentaries and video games. According to Harley marketing department, 15 to 20 million individuals in the US would have the desire to buy a motorcycle. In parallel to this strategy, Harley-Davidson is perfectly aware that they need to communicate to younger people under 35 and to have culturally-relevant messages to women , African Americans and Hispanics. For example the domestic Hispanic market is very fast-growing, four times the rate of the general population. For the younger generation SMS (phone text messages) is an excellent medium for marketing and mobile subscribers are interested and receptive to reading offers on their phones. As a matter of fact text messaging has increased 60 percent year-over-year (source Mobile Marketing Association).

So, from now expect Harley products and messages to pop up where you never saw them before, to see Harley reducing or abandoning classic media exposure in print magazines where there are no new readers to convince to ride their bikes and to leave radio that the young generation is not listeing to. Expect to see more and more the brand and its bikes showing up on audio/video digital media (movies, series, documentaries, web, blogs, social networks, smart phones, games), etc. And these new techniques will come not only from the factory but also directly from its dealers. Something new and fresh from Harley-Davidson. It was time that they realize that demographics have radically changed that there is a media revolution going on since 20 years and that audiences have shifted to brand new communication means. I applaud this new “push marketing” strategy. It should have been started years ago, but it’s not too late. Harley-Davidson (picture Cyril Huze).

14 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Soon On The Big And Small Screen… And On Your Smart Phone…And In Video Games.”

  1. 1 Dave Blevins Nov 12th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    While I can certainly applaud HD’s desire to start marketing their product line more agressively, I don’t know exactly what they can actually market to a younger demographic. Especially with the recent elimination of the Buell line, and MV Augusta now for sale, the motor company is once again stuck with marketing a bike that looks like the one that grandpa had back in the day.
    Make no mistake, I love Harleys and have ridden, customized, chopped, and built from scratch, these wonderful machines that are THE American motorcycle most of my life… problem is that I, like many of you, am from an America that no longer exists. That is the America that had pride in all things made in the USA, our cars, clothes, work ethic, our tools, our ingenuity, is no longer politically correct, and our youth culture has no recognizable respect for American ideology or American culture. Therefore they have no American pride to support US made goods, especially that big old-fashined looking Harley Davidson motorcycle. Harley is no longer synonymus with the rebellion, freedom, or American pride so it will take a great effort to sell a Harley to someone that grew up in a home where the family car is a Hyundai, thier favorite movie is the FAST & the Furious, none of thier clothes have a made in USA label, (even if it is a Harley shirt), and thier favorite pastime is a Nintendo Wii.
    This being the day after Veteran’s Day, I am bothered by the lack of acknowlegement of the high price paid to make America possible, and at the low price it is being sold away. I still have a Chevrolet shop truck, turn handles on a Bridgeport mill, weld with Miller and Airco, spray with Binks, etc., and have supported the Harley brand even as they made it very hard to do so over the years, but we are a dying breed. So good luck to Harley Davidson and thier new ad campaign, it will take a lot more more than getting Arnold on a Fatboy to sell a Harley to today’s young folks.

  2. 2 Russ Monroe Nov 12th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    It takes more time to conceive a new production bike than to change a media strategy. So I hope that Harley has something new and young to propose to the 35 yo and under. If not they must be very, very nervous.

  3. 3 Shifter Nov 12th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Agreed. Good strategy and bad products. As bad as a bad strategy with good products.

  4. 4 bobx Nov 12th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    sounds good. get the word out to the younger generation. then help them figure out how to afford to buy a harley in this economy.

  5. 5 fuji Nov 12th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    The Motor Company employs the tactic of “psychological placebo ” a way to make one feel better with out medication.

    Buy my product to feel good no medication needed just $

    They must have an in house nut job { phycologist } to build / layout their ads.

  6. 6 Bob Walker Nov 12th, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Hopefully this new advertising is better than HD’s God-awful Dark Custom campaign.

  7. 7 Doc Robinson Nov 13th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    IMHO the Dark Custom was a pretty cool campaign and I personally know some young guys who are riding Sportster Irons because of it. I wonder just how many of the factory knockers on this blog can honestly identify with Dave Blevin when he says, “I still have a Chevrolet shop truck, turn handles on a Bridgeport mill, weld with Miller and Airco, spray with Binks, etc., and have supported the Harley brand even as they made it very hard to do so over the years, but we are a dying breed.”
    If you can take a good hard look in the mirror and say, “yep, I support America in my purchases prettty well across the board” then you have earned the right to be critical of the Motor Company. If not, well ….

  8. 8 NOTTUSMTL Nov 13th, 2009 at 6:14 pm


  9. 9 fuji Nov 13th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    If any one here has ever been to and toured any Harley manufacturing facility would know that if the command came down to use only American made equipment instantly. those facilitys would come to a sudden stop.

    I find it interesting that a company would patronise me to be patriotic when they can’t follow their own ethics.

    Trying to influance me through guilt. I don’t think so. Purchased my last Harley in 82.

  10. 10 just my opinion Nov 14th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Let’s all be honest Harley has most of their clothing line made over seas and a large part of the motorcycles are also made out side of the good old USA. So anyone that thinks I don’t have a right to an opinion because I watch a Sony TV well all I can say to that is Bull shit. We all have a right to our respective opinions and if HD wants to use the buy American card they should step up and make those products using American parts and labor. HD has caused all their own problems with bad managment and arrogants. It was not but two or three years ago the dealers were telling customers that if you don’t want to pay more than retail go buy something else. Now they are all whining because lots of those customers did go buy Honda’s and Yamaha’s and Victory’s and found that those bikes are not only cheaper but handle better are faster and will out last the HD counter part but, at the end of the day it is HD and their bully sales tactics that caused their lack of loyalty by many customers. It is HD corporate that forced those dealers to move their profitable businesses out on the freeway into bigger more expensive building that cost three times as much to operate. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if you force your dealers to triple their bills with out giving them a way to triple profits they will fail. That is what is now forcing those same dealers to close their once profitable businesses. Then on top of the poor sales of HD’s now they have stop building Buell’s so who gets hurt? THE DEALERS they have even less product to sell to generate profits with now. Think about this, If HD could afford to give a five thousand dollar rebate on those Buell’s when stopping production then why could they not have given lets say two thousand when people wanted to buy them but thought they should be cheaper? More bad management? You tell me. I find it hard to feel sorry for a company that has done everything in their power to hurt their own dealers and they have also done much to hurt the after market as well. Anytime you see a new inovative product come out HD jumps on it as soon as it becomes popular / profitable. Sometimes those items are even patented but HD does everything they can to either copy or get as close as possible with out having to pay the guy that came up with the idea to start with. Don’t get me wrong I like HD and wish them well but I personally think that HD should fire the Lawyers and corporate big wigs and get back to building a quality motorcycle in a price range people can afford. If they don’t do it soon I think they will be done.

  11. 11 sollis Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:47 pm
  12. 12 Todd8080 Nov 15th, 2009 at 12:51 am

    The MoCo’s seen a lot tougher times than this but kept plodding along, and they’ll continue to plod along.

    Everyone screams for new, hip motorcycles from Harley, but when they make them they don’t sell. Time and again over the decades Harley has strayed from the classic Big Twin format, and every single time they do sales suffer from it.

    People either like Big Twins or they don’t. Those that don’t aren’t going to be swayed by a Harley crotch rocket or some ridiculous monstrosity like the Rocker.

    But tastes change; what someone doesn’t like at thirty may be quite appealing at fifty.

    I keep reading that Harley should be in a panic because all of its customers (old guys like me) are aging. What nobody seems to realize is that everyone’s aging, not just Harley customers. When a sixty-year-old turns sixty-one, thirty-year-olds also age another year.

    The wheelie/stoppie boyz on plastic Jap bikes will one day realize there’s more to motorcycling than doing stunts and will start seeing Harleys for what they are, the Cadillac of motorcycles. That’s when, hopefully, they’ll take their place in the fold, assuming they’re still alive.

    A lot of people who jumped on the Harley fad bandwagon (which is most current Harley owners) are realizing that they weren’t really cut out to be motorcyclists. They liked the idea of playing badass biker, but not the actual riding part, and certainly not the part where they get dirt under their fingernails.

    So they’ve stopped trading in their rubbermount touring Harley for a new one every year and the bike they have now sits in the garage most of the time gathering dust (unless it’s in one of those Harley bubbles). Or they’ve sold it and moved onto whatever fad is currently considered cool.

    So the MoCo only shipped 303,479 motorcycles last year. Big deal. Thirty years ago they were shipping less than one-sixth that many. Hell, the year I was born Harley shipped about 1/25 that many.

    So shareholders won’t make quite as much this year as they had hoped. Boo hoo. They should be happy to be making any money out of thin air.

    And if half of the 686 Harley dealers in America fold, so be it. I won’t shed a tear for the bastards who’ve been raking in the dough hand over fist for the last twenty years, gouging their customers while treating them like crap (except for that brief moment when they’re dropping twenty grand).

    I liked it better when you needed guts to be a Harley rider anyway. I see this as just a thinning of the herd, separating the weak from the strong. The weak will whine and the strong will ride.

  13. 13 Jack Nov 15th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    It seems that everyone in this conversation has some valid points. I was never a big fan of greed, and the corporations that wallowed in it deserve to go down. The price of Harley parts and services actually had a positive side in my biking experience. It forced me to learn, improvise, wrench and be more self sufficient (basket case ’56 Panhead was my challenge). The joy of finding the right part at the swap meet or being able to change my own tires all added to my overall experience.

    Life’s too short. Take care of yourself, your family and your ride. Piss on the rest.

  14. 14 Mike Corbin Nov 16th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Market Sportsters to younger people, show them how to ride American and be proud of it..

    Young people like the new Camaro, put a Sportster next to a Camero or Mustang in the adds..

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