Harley-Davidson Pushing Consumer-Led Marketing And Advertising

Last year, Harley-Davidson fired its advertising agency, and began sourcing advertising ideas directly from Harley-Davidson’s fans found on internet. The technique, known as “Crowdsourcing”, is the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals (in this case, Harley marketing people and ad agency) to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call. In other words, “crowdsourcing” is leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies, for example blogs like this one and social media like Facebook or Twitter.

Extremely popular with businesses since 2006, although controversial and opposed by some, the “crowdsourcing” technique depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to a group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company shifts its commitment to “crowdsourcing” into a higher gear by launching a new Facebook application that sources advertising ideas directly from Harley-Davidson brand’s millions supporters. The application called “Fan Machine” allows Harley-Davidson’s Facebook community to review an advertising brief, submit ideas and vote on ideas from other community members. After selecting and rewarding the winners, Harley-Davidson will work with existing marketing partners to bring the best creative ideas to life. Harley-Davidson has crowdsourced ideas like this for a year, but not with the massive scale of Facebook.

“It works for us because their passion for our brand is second-to-none. They’re going to light this thing up, and it will be fun to watch. Facebook also proves this passion is passing along to the next generation, where 40 percent of our fans are between the ages of 18 and 34.” Harley-Davidson’s first foray into crowdsourced marketing resulted in ‘No Cages,’ the Motor Company’s ad campaign that debuted in February.

“Getting a brand’s fans and followers involved in co-creating advertising ideas is the future of marketing,” said John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils, the agency that produced ‘No Cages.’ “We’re excited to work with Harley-Davidson as our first brand partner using the Fan Machine technology, a logical choice because of our deep partnership and their passionate fans.” Any suggestion to make to Harley? Go to Harley-Davidson Facebook.

The term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing,” first coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”. Howe explains that because technological advances have allowed for cheap consumer electronics, the gap between professionals and amateurs has been diminished. Companies are then able to take advantage of the talent of the public.


11 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Pushing Consumer-Led Marketing And Advertising”

  1. 1 Brett Nov 9th, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Harley listening? Good.

  2. 2 Seymour Nov 9th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    “Last year, Harley-Davidson fired its advertising agency” I thought the agency fired HD..?

  3. 3 Jerez Nov 9th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    The story is that Harley ad agency argued against crowdsourcing and wanted to continue classic advertising. Who fired who doesn’t matter.

  4. 4 alan sharp Nov 10th, 2011 at 9:30 am

    i got a idea, buy victory…………….victory bikes H/D names on victorys sell like hot cakes…lol.

  5. 5 Mark Nov 10th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    My favorite Steve Jobs quotes came as his answer to the question: What market research did you do that led to the iPad? “None,” he replied. “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.” That’s what Harley’s crowdsourcing is doing. I thought the cages ad was a monumental cliche.

  6. 6 reyn mansson Nov 10th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Facebook where 40 percent of our fans are between the ages of 18 and 34. But can you convert them to HD buyers? If you think “NO Cages” was successful ad campaign, I would love to hear why & how. And the stupid new ad about the 103 where the guy pulls the door off dog crates to show how powerful his new Harley is and what rebel he is.

  7. 7 Matt Nov 10th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    This is what happens when you let Facebook guide your advertising. I present to you Ambercrombie & Davidson =).

  8. 8 Matt Nov 10th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Looks like the link in my earlier post was pulled. Just do a search for “Harley Blackline commercial”. It’s worth a good chuckle =).

  9. 9 BigWave916 Nov 11th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    “Crowdsourcing” Like the crowd that yelled to high heavens because Harley introduced the XR1200 in Europe, but not available in the US. Introduced in the U.S. they found out that the crowd wanted it here but the members of the crown that actually bought one were few and far between.

  10. 10 Steve Hog Radio Producer Johann Nov 11th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Crowd sourcing means those with the ideas are doing work for free! Its all spec work. Now who here wants to offer an idea even go to the trouble of creating a mini video only to have it used and then not be awarded the option of creating it?

    Ad agencies and those of us who create campaigns spend lots of time and talent to create things just like a bike builder or anyone working for some else.

    By using crowd sourcing the company gets to review a ton of ideas at no expense to them. Thus they save tons of money which would have gone to a creative talent agency. Now all they do is pay for the production side not the idea side.

    Great for companies bad for those who are in the creative field. Ask Cyril if he would spend his time offering up ideas to H-D or anyone else without pay? Doubt it. Would you work for a compnay without being paid for it?

    I’m for offering advice to someone who needs help but when they take that advice and use it to make a pile of money without recompense forget it. Remember its only the one who wins the idea who gets paid, not everyone else offering their ideas.

    Just my two cents worth.

  11. 11 Steve Dec 2nd, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I have an idea that myself and others believe would be a fantastic comercial for HD. And like many others, do not want to give it away on facebook. Any ideas?

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Cyril Huze