Harley-Davidson Hits The Road With Willie Nelson’s Tour. To Attract Youth?

When I learned yesterday that Harley-Davidson Motor Company is launching the Summer Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown with 25 dates across the country to promote its Dark Custom Motorcycles line, I was very surprised. Nothing against Willie Nelson. He is an iconic American country singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. But he is 78!

In the press release regarding this event Amanda Lee, Communications Manager at Harley-Davidson justifies the tour alliance by stating that “The rebel spirit burns across generations and is one of the reasons why Harley-Davidson is the number one selling on-street motorcycle among Young Adults age 18-34 in the U.S”

Willie Nelson, the best “role model” to transmit and fuel the rebel spirit to our youth to sell Dark Series motorcycles?

If you go to one of the 25 outdoor concerts you will have the opportunity to swing your leg over a selection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display including some of the newest additions to the Dark Custom family of bikes. “Those who want to take the first step toward riding can feel the thrill of the throttle, fire up the engine and shift through the gears on a real Harley-Davidson motorcycle with JUMPSTART, Harley’s signature stationary riding experience. no license or riding experience required” says Harley press release. There will also be a VIP motorcycle parking for all those who already roll on two wheels…

Tour Dates.

Confirmed Dates: 5/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ The MANN 5/28 – Gilford, NH @ Meadowbrook US Cellular Pavilion 5/29 – Essex Junction, VT @ Champlain Valley Expo 5/30 – York, PA @ Sovereign Bank Stadium 6/3 – Nashville, TN @ The Woods at Fontanel 6/4 – Little Rock, AR @ North Shore Park at the Arkansas River in North Little Rock 6/5 – Orange Beach, AL @ The Amphitheater at the Wharf 6/9 – Southaven, MS @ Snowden Grove Amphitheater 6/10 – Columbia, MO @ Midway Exposition Center 6/11- Sparta, IL @ World Shooting & Recreation Complex 6/12 – Lawrenceville, GA @ Coolray Field 6/16 – Roanoke Rapids, NC The Rapids Jam Festival* 6/17 – Simpsonville, SC @ Charter Amphitheater at Heritage Park 6/18 – Waldorf, MD @ Regency Stadium 6/19 – Knoxville, TN @ World’s Fair Park 6/21 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheater 6/23 – Del Mar, CA @ Grandstand 6/24 – Ontario, CA @ Citizens Business Bank Arena 6/25 – Pozo, CA @ Pozo Saloon 6/30 – Mission, TX @ Las Palmas Race Park 7/1 – Corpus Christi, TX @ Concrete Street Amphitheater 7/2 – Eufala, OK @ Eufala Cove Amphitheater 7/3 – Siloam Springs, AR @ Osage Creek Amphitheater 7/4 – Fort Worth, TX @ Billy Bob’s, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic & Throwdown

49 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Hits The Road With Willie Nelson’s Tour. To Attract Youth?”

  1. 1 Kirk Perry May 26th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Damn straight! 🙂

  2. 2 Larry May 26th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I am not sure Willie can swing a leg above a Harley. HD has a very confused marketing strategy.

  3. 3 Techno May 26th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    If they are trying to attract youth why are they touring with Willie Nelson? What do they consider youth, 55 and older?

  4. 4 chopperfreak29 May 26th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I love Willie and all but this is just hilarious. I can see how Willie is now and always has been more outlaw than any of the current crop of country artists, but I think Harley needs to get behind a sweet metal festival. Get Lamb of God, Slayer, Motorhead and a few others and I’m there. But I won’t be looking at bikes.LOL

  5. 5 Jeff Nicklus May 26th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Willie and HD are both relics! At least Willie has the ability to write some NEW & FRESH Material whereas HD seems to only have the ability to design new T-Shirts and then wrap them around the same old crap motorcycles and call it innovation! To attract new more youthful riders HD is going to have to do more than just dig Willy out of moth balls.

    FYI: I happen to like Willy and his music, not to mention he is a Texan!

    Over & Out,


  6. 6 David May 26th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    They are just going for the Weed aspect……what happens on willies bus doesnt stay on willies bus…..They are just connecting with all the Pot heads that smoke or eat brownies(Peter Fonda’s Crowd)…..

    SSDD; David

  7. 7 GuitarSlinger May 26th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    WHAT ???

    Willie Nelson ?

    To attract a Youth Crowd ?

    What in the _____ is Harley Davidson smoking lately ?

    Its not like Willie has captured the Youth market like Johnny Cash did with his American Recordings

    This makes zero sense . But wait . Its the Harley Davidson of the 2010’s . What have they done lately thats made a lick of sense ?


    Never mind .

  8. 8 Keith Stone & Kiki May 26th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    X 2 Jeff N.

    *** Willie and HD are both relics! At least Willie has the ability to write some NEW & FRESH Material whereas HD seems to only have the ability to design new T-Shirts and then wrap them around the same old crap motorcycles and call it innovation! To attract new more youthful riders HD is going to have to do more than just dig Willy out of moth balls.***

    I would love to see the polls that some Harley bozo put together that shows that overwhelmingly most 18-34 are INTO and about followers of Willies……. fraid-not..

    But Willie is cool…….

  9. 9 Luis May 26th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Aside from pot smoking and not paying taxes Willie has nothing in common w/ the target demographic.

  10. 10 Donnie May 26th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Unbelievable corporate stupidity.

  11. 11 Woody May 26th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    They got fed up with Kurt Cobain not answering their emails, so they went to “Plan B” 😉

  12. 12 burnout May 26th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    What? No one thought to use Lady Gaga?? WTF! peace

  13. 13 Brady May 26th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Well, he does periodically get caught with pot. I guess the kids might like that.

    Behind Bars – Motorcycles and Life

  14. 14 J May 26th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    He works cheap these days- prolly the #1 reason Harley chose him….. Great new marketing push, Harley!

  15. 15 1550tc May 26th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Cyril does HD lady know the difference between an I pad and a Maxi pad?

    this one i just cant see

    one of the reasons why Harley-Davidson is the number one selling on-street motorcycle among Young Adults age 18-34 in the U.S”

    she been to the hess gas station in daytona during bike week??

  16. 16 bigitch May 26th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    wow! so what if willie’s over seventy, your no spring chicken your self. and half of you need to look in the mirror and pat yopur belly and say:


    and when did age become a milestone for bike riders?? don’t you remember the you tube video of those old jap bikers you so proudly brought to our attention!

    i’ll bet you even wear some of those old foggy bottom glasses so you can read.

    shame shame shame.

    we can either go see willie sing and enjoy a concert or go watch a buch of people moshing in a pit and making an ass of them selves like we did when we were 20 and broke.

    but remember we are the one with cash now and i’ll go see who ever i want, when ever i want, just because i want!

    not because of the age…!

  17. 17 Kemper May 26th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Bigitch. You completely miss the point. The point is the crowd going to see Willie Nelson in concert is not exactly the youth crowd that Harley is looking for to sell the Dark Series. Read again.

  18. 18 Vision May 26th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Flying HD colors on a youth angst band tour would do a lot more to help their image with the younger set no doubt

    But Hey…… “On the road again” is a great song for a commercial to appeal to the “Core” audience who I think I read on this blog was something like 48 years old and getting 3 months older every year, Yikes!

  19. 19 D K May 26th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    http://www.countrythrowdown.com/artists There are artist younger than Willie performing. My oldest daughter and some of her college friends are going. They also went to Jazz Festival in New Orleans and may go to Lollapalooza in Chicago. Crowds are any outdoor music festival are usually 18-34 regardless of the music.

  20. 20 Luis May 26th, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Warped tour w/ roland sands customizing some “dark customs” would get that 18-34 bracket.

  21. 21 Luis May 26th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Here is Amanda Lee’s Linked in. She looks young enough to know better than to pick willie nelson. My bet is that she didn’t decide this and some C-level exec wanted free tickets to see willie.


  22. 22 David May 26th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Maybe he should have some plastic surgery done like kenny rogers…..then he would look really young and stupid.


  23. 23 zyon May 27th, 2011 at 6:21 am

    If they wanted to attract youth, they would tour with the warped touch, Rockstar energy drink, ozzfest or lollapaloosa. If they want free joints, they should tour with Willie. Other than that, this is just bad marketing and a waste of money.

  24. 24 Scott May 27th, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Could have been the Rolling Stones I hear the are wildly popular with today’s youth.

    While Willie has been and still is a rebel I have never made Willie/biker connection. Bring on Justin Beiber, now there’s a good biker image…

  25. 25 m switzer May 27th, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Remember the 100th- Elton John? Harley doesn’t mention that fiasco

  26. 26 Scott May 27th, 2011 at 7:09 am

    OK Nothing against Willie or any other performer. The motor company has blown this like the have blown every marketing campaign in the last few years. One of the basic rules of marketing is know your potential market demographics. So the ideal performer would be popular amongst 18-34 females. then the girls drag their men to some lame ass Lady GaGa concert …. The guys all bored to tears spend the entire time looking at bikes.

    HD I am available for consultation for a fee.

  27. 27 Seymour May 27th, 2011 at 7:42 am

    LOL LOL some great comments!

    But I just love this: “The rebel spirit burns across generations and is one of the reasons why Harley-Davidson is the number one selling on-street motorcycle among Young Adults age 18-34 in the U.S”

    I love that corporate speak! Comes so natural! Just flows off the tongue! She must be a real hoot at cocktail parties!

    LOL oh HD, you have become hilarious!!!

  28. 28 EvoJoe May 27th, 2011 at 8:11 am

    What happened to the Marissa Miller marketing campaign ? I would think eye candy appeals to the younger crowd, more than a ol piece of driftwood. His music is great ,but can’t hear him when riding.

  29. 29 Knucklehead May 27th, 2011 at 8:54 am

    My 3 sons are 26 to 40 and they’d be there in a heart beat. Hail Willie!

  30. 30 Marc May 27th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Hi Cyril, great post/comment. WTF is HD up to now with their Marketing strategy? First, they brought us Elton John???? Now, Willie to attract a younger audience. They have lost their way. Sad really. Really sad.

  31. 31 Kirk Perry May 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I’d rather go through bad times with no money, but a sack of weed, than go through good times with a pile of money and a bigger bag of weed…… or wait a minute…. (mumbles) …. let’s see… “bad times with weed, but no money”….. or is it “good times with weed and money?”….. aw…whatever.

  32. 32 hoyt May 27th, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Is this a bad time to re-hash (pun intended) the memory of another HD concert-headscratcher such as Elton John headlining an HD party?

    The stationary bike for newbies is brilliant, its better served at other venues

  33. 33 hoyt May 27th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    woo-oops, Marc beat me to it

  34. 34 Paul May 27th, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I thought Willie is all about anti-corporate, anti-big business. Amazed he is being backed by Mother Harley’s marketing wizards but you can’t tour without financial support these days. At least it’s not the GEICO Insurance Willie Nelson Tour.

  35. 35 Odlamn May 27th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Hey, have any of you been to a Willie concert in the past five years? He’s genuine, and the youth ‘are’ there, and they love it – the music and the legend. For the most part, Willie fans tend to be genuine, too. Is it a good move on H-D’s part? Time will tell, and they’ve been around longer than ‘most’ of you.

  36. 36 m switzer May 27th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    What about the Harley 100th -Elton John another fine booking

  37. 37 Paul May 27th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Willie’s letting himself be backed by Mother Harley’s marketing wizards? I thought he was all anti-big business, anti-corporation. Oh well, at least it’s not the GEICO Insurance Willie Nelson Tour.

  38. 38 badams May 27th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Couple reasons IMHO:

    1. Willie Nelson is an iconic American songwriter and this may be the last chance for many people to experience his music. There is brand congruency deep within the heritage of his music and HD.

    2. Processed entertainment product. doesn’t align with the nostalgia of HD. While it would be cool to see HD take risks, they are a Publicly traded company(so you wont get Slayer and Sons of Anarchy wannabe type parties, but you will get a bike that wont break down: never forget investors hold the purse strings)

    3. HD Marketing, PR and Ad Agencies are not located in California where many custom motorcycle trends are born(if you disagree then stop wearing dirty Vans skate shoes you found at the mall, open face helmets from Biltwell, scouring ebay for old AEE parts, etc— all came from CA) therefore are not exposed to emerging trends and subcultures.

    4. Harley’s white male demo(which they are losing) is comprised of people in the Heartland rather than coastal markets. LA, NY, etc are Hispanic and African American(sorry BillyBob, choppers and early flashy customs were born by a couple of black guys in Inglewood California in the Mid Sixties) and would build customer affinity through Latino and Hip Hop bands.


  39. 39 1550tc May 27th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Remember the 100th- Elton John? Harley doesn’t mention that fiasco

    110 who?? lady GAGA?? after the boss in 05, id like to see the stones or u2 for the 110th

  40. 40 bigitch May 27th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    kemper no i did not miss the point. in the first paragraph of this article it said:

    “But he is 78!”

    that is what i was addressing. the age issue that appears to be a concern. as to who cares how old you are.

  41. 41 Walt Lumpkin May 28th, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Love Willie but his concerts are a snooze fest these days. Saw him at a large outdoor event last October and after three days of musical acts he put the crowd to sleep as the closer.

    Did HD hire the same marketing genious that thought New Coke was a good idea
    or just using the same ones that thought Elton and bikers were a good mix. The village People would have been more appropriate. At least they have a “biker” in the group.

  42. 42 1550tc May 28th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Walt all you have to do is ask yourself if the chip would book him as a headliner??

  43. 43 Mike May 28th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I think the whole state of Wisconsin should be sold to Canada, it is embarrasing whats been going on up there the last few years.

    Sad, HD is just so full of themselves these days. The Dark Side, hey that’s kinda funny too, It is dark inside a coffin right? Bury this idea folks !!!!

    I won’t be attending and I’m uh kinda old,

  44. 44 Wiz May 29th, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Willie ‘n me go WAY back to the old Austin, TX days twenty,thirty years ago. Loved him then, love him now! I’d rather see Willie again than say…Buck Cherry! Wiz

  45. 45 jsdiamond May 30th, 2011 at 11:17 am

    If they wanted to “attract youth” they’d push the Nightster line and not the $15k and up blackline series. And up-sell on the mods for Nightster.

  46. 46 live2rideaglide Jun 2nd, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Willie Nelson ….. marketing to young people. Is it April 1st. It’s the new , opposites attract strategy. I can see it now. An Oprah Winfrey campaign directed at anorexic white girls. Charlie Sheen crosses the country stumping for Just say No and True Love Can Wait. Larry the Cable Guy plugging Esquire magazine. And the best one of all , Osama Ben Laden would be perfect for a recruiting campaign for , you got it, the Navy.
    No offense intended to anyone .

  47. 47 Brad Jun 3rd, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Someone PLEASE fire Willie G and the rest of the old farts at H-D. They’ve clearly got old-timer’s dissease. They haven’t done anything relevant since the V-Rod, and even on that the only thing they’ve done to it is offer it in different colors. Seriously? Give me a Honda any day. I don’t need a doo rag or fringe, or a leather vest with patches.

  48. 48 Wiz Jun 4th, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Brad, I don’t know where to start on yer ass! So I won’t! “If I have to EXPLAIN, you wouldn’t UNDERSTAND anyway!!! Wiz

  49. 49 Boss Hawg Jun 8th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Oh Willie….such a role model for the youth and HD!


    Boss Hawg

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Cyril Huze