100% 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).