Thursday, April 2, 2009

Harley blinks.

Saw this double page ad from Harley Davidson in The New York Times.

It's all swagger and piss and vinegar, and it all feels just a little too desperate.

Now Harley is a great American brand. If only the US automakers had half the heritage of Harley, they wouldn't need a bail-out. Because while American drivers may prefer Japanese cars, for riders it's just the opposite. No Honda or Kawasaki or even BMW has the cachet of this iconic American brand. To quote an older, wiser Harley ad: "Those with no sense of history are doomed to repeat ours."

But with motorcycle sales going down the toilet, there's fear in Harley-land and it shows in this ad. A strong Harley brand wouldn't need to wrap itself in the American flag. That would be redundant.

The bravado feels forced, from the in-your-face headline to the almost whiny "Screw It. Let's Ride." tag line. The copy is unfocused, probably to accommodate filling up 13 stripes worth of text. And finally, by attempting to appeal to everyone (the white collar/pink collar reference), they appeal to no one.

Here's hoping the economy turns around quickly.

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