What’s the deal with Harley-Davidson and advertising?

If there ever was a brand oozing with cool and dripping with popular culture mojo it’s Harley-Davidson.

The brand is built.  Job done.   Harley is the ultimate cruising bike.  It looks kickass and will never go out of style.

Yet there seems to be some kind of problem on the advertising front.

I can’t imagine it’s a communication problem.  Doing great ads for Harley would be a gimme.  Too easy.  Not even a challenge. The only problem would be where to start.

My neighbor across the street is a Harley rider.  He’s in his 50s and jumps on his bike as soon as the Chicago streets thaw.   It’s very clearly his pride and joy.   Seeing him on his Harley smoking his cigar makes me want one too.  Freedom is fun!

Being an ad guy I have naturally thought about the brand.   Everyone I see on a Harley is like my neighbor:  white, older, grey hair.

And being in America, and in marketing, I can well imagine someone grumbling that “we need to attract the young folks”.  But Harley seems to have naturally migrated to being a freedom toy for the middle aged.

And luckily for Harley, the demographic bulge that is the baby boomers, who grew up on Easy Rider, now had the cash to finally indulge their youthful dreams and buy a hog.

And that has worked out fine for years.

I’d guess Harley , and a lot of other makers of things that are expensive and not absolutely necessary,  are feeling a major pinch in this recession.  But what can you do about that?   The Harley Scooter?

So I wonder what the real problem might be.

This is NOT a vague pitch for the Harley business btw.   I can’t imagine it’s a advertising problem.

But do call us if you’re in Chicago and looking for a good lunch.

I’d love to know what the problem is.  Out of sheer professional curiosity alone.

3 responses to “What’s the deal with Harley-Davidson and advertising?

  1. You described the tea party demographic I think. What % do I get if I get HD to give you their creative?

  2. howie, you get 25%!

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