Harley-Davidson Print Ad Analysis

Harley-Davidson hasn’t survived this long just by making cool bikes. The challenge is not only the bikes and the economy, but the ever-changing image of the rider. Katherine Wintsch from the Martin Ad Agency and founder of “The Mom Complex” gives you an interesting analysis of this Harley-Davidson women campaign. She writes “They’re avoiding the badass biker chick and the woman as paranoid passenger. She’s not gripping onto her man who’s driving…” What is your take on this ad?

26 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Print Ad Analysis”

  1. 1 Ryan Aug 19th, 2012 at 9:25 am


  2. 2 Burke Aug 19th, 2012 at 9:25 am

    The art of understanding women who ride.

  3. 3 Blue Aug 19th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I’m more intrigued by the posed riding position. Where exactly is she sitting? To judge by that, probably on the rear fender… 😉

  4. 4 Toby Aug 19th, 2012 at 11:50 am

    They sell politicians the same way.

  5. 5 Mike Greenwald Aug 19th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Only you can be ewe.

  6. 6 highrpm Aug 19th, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    how about another with a v-neck wool sweater?

  7. 7 J.H. Aug 20th, 2012 at 1:04 am

    With the flat black 1/2 helmet, and the fingerless gloves(I think), want does that tell ya?

  8. 8 Heavy Metal Aug 20th, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Probably got that riding shot with the bike mounted on a trailer.

  9. 9 donnie Aug 20th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Not so sure about the trailer , looks like the speedometer is registering something ..but never under estimate a talented photo shop person ..Not bad add though !

  10. 10 Cris Sommer Simmons Aug 20th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I think she looks very cool and confident. Just like women who ride. 🙂

  11. 11 BrotherTiberius Aug 20th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    The flannel is softer and does appear more feminine.

    However, Verizon, the cell phone company, is running an ad with a woman in a black/pink leather riding suit, on a sport bike. That ad gets my attention, and is also feminine.

    Maybe the alure of that ad, and similar ads for bikers has more to do with not weighing significantly over your ideal body mass…

  12. 12 reyn mansson Aug 20th, 2012 at 9:25 am

    As I like to say, “Buy a Harley, Get a Life”.

    So much of being a Harley rider is being part of a lifestyle. When I was marketing director for a big Harley store, I saw so many other brands traded in primarily to fit in with their friends. The ad is inviting to women riders and that group, women riders, along with African-American riders is where Harley is going to find the brand conversion sales to keep up growth. Very, very few people are going to see an ad and a light bulb goes off and they say “Today I wanna be a motorcycle rider” But scooter chics, former riders, they are the potential new sale and brand conversion targets.

    Remember motorcycle ads have a very narrow appeal. 98% of the viewer in a general interest media have no interest and never will. Motorcycle Advertising is the Ultimate in niche marketing.

    I love the verizon ad, but it is not selling motorcyles

  13. 13 FlaNativ Aug 20th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Brother T, that’s a woman on a crotch Rocket for T-Mobile and she does get my attention also. I’m also in agreement with highrpm, v neck is good with much padding…….

  14. 14 Stein Aug 20th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    “Today, the bike is an accessory to your life”….Pretty much the attitude of society now a days, with driving a car so they can text and play with their phones!

  15. 15 miltrane Aug 20th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    As an ad man think it works… 100+

  16. 16 BrotherTiberius Aug 20th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I stand corrected, it is t-mobile, not verizon.

  17. 17 BrotherTiberius Aug 20th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I stand corrected, it is t-mobile, not verizon.

  18. 18 Dinky Dot Aug 20th, 2012 at 10:50 am

    How about this. Build a better bike with fresh styling, colors and design and performance and they will sell themselves. Seems this would be a smarter long term goal than finding new ways to sell us the same old crap

  19. 19 JSDiamond Aug 20th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    HD should stop pandering to nagging political correctness and lose the Great Gazoo helmet on that woman. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good ad.

  20. 20 Blackmax Aug 20th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Very, very Smart ……
    Knows who the market is & Why ???
    No wonder, with this kind of advertising that H-D is number 1 with women….
    Reyn Mansson in his previous starement is absolutly correct, H-D has turned towards those long neglected markets of women, blacks and hispanics.
    Guess who going to keep them going into the NEXT century ????

  21. 21 winterman Aug 21st, 2012 at 12:41 am


  22. 22 Steelchoppin Aug 21st, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Like I have long said: Harley is no more a motorcycle company than Affliction Jeans is a clothing company. Sure HD produces motorcycles, but that is not their bread and butter. They sell “unfinished” motorcycles and like the earlier comment: “buy a Harley and get a life”. I could not have said it better myself. Woman now make up over 10% of the riders in this country and by all rights they should be marketed to in a way that appeals to them. Furthermore, studies have shown over that few decades that even when women do not actually swipe the card and make a purchase, they have a tremendous influence over much of the purchases made by men. My wife loves to ride with me but has no desire to ride her own bike. Does that make her any less of a consumer? Nope!

    We took all of this into consideration when we developed our marketing plan at Cycle Stop USA and we initially targeted 90% of our marketing towards woman, both as a rider and a passenger. It didn’t provide immediate results. We are still busily creating the market for a shop like ours. The fact that HD is too only substantiates the suspicions that we had regarding the influence on the female biker (or passenger) as a consumer of motorcycle goods and services.

    I also agree with the more passive (less traditional) appearance of the woman in the ad. My wife is not a typical “biker chick” in that she does not wear leather. She rather prefers a more “dressed down” look and that does not make her any less of a consumer. In fact, it opens the possibility for more functional clothing that is comfortable and still safe.

    In other words…breaking down the psychology of the ad shows that there is a thought process behind everything they do (no surprise there) and that they are trying to appeal to more ladies like my misses.

  23. 23 Doc Aug 21st, 2012 at 11:05 am

    More ads for hipsters it looks like to me. However, am I a pig for still wanting her in a bikini and knee-high boots?

  24. 24 Blackmax Aug 21st, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Hey winterman, facts are facts !!!
    Why is there an “Iron Elite” or “Harlistas” ?
    Or for why is it that the new markets are in the Far East & India ?
    Think on that one for awhile???

    Also a fact the significant other says “Sure, go ahead & buy that new H-D”
    “Just make sure you get that extra $2000.00 for motor clothes that H-D Financing offers,
    so I can go shopping”. And she means it !
    (Not that you can buy a lot of Motor Clothes with only that much $$$)
    Yep, H-D does know how to market and WHO they are marketing to & WHY !!!!
    And they do it quite well

  25. 25 Steve The Producer Johann Aug 23rd, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Looks like many of the eyewear ads I’ve seen over the years.


  26. 26 Mona Nov 19th, 2012 at 1:13 am

    I just learned how to ride this past June via a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and I love seeing motorcycle ads with women riders. As much as I’d love to wear “cool” tops, I’ve always worn a leather jacket and riding boots. Safety comes first 🙂 I wish they’d invent a helmet that doesn’t crush my hair flat lol!

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Cyril Huze