Thursday, November 26, 2009
Harley’s strategy for the campaign flowed quite naturally out of the company’s unique history and place in the market. The shape of the campaign, however, was determined primarily by the need to reassure the core ridership that the company had not ‘‘sold out,’’ in the words of Craig Rowley, account supervisor at Carmichael Lynch Spong. The campaign’s theme, ‘‘The Book of Harley-Davidson,’’ was devised by a team led by creative directors Kerry Casey and Jim Nelson. They relied primarily on print media because of its ability to reach the target market most cost-efficiently. Although two television spots were shot for the campaign, they were designed to be used by dealers and not broadcast nationally. The print ads consisted of spreads, each purporting to be a chapter from ‘‘The Book of Harley-Davidson,’’ although only three actual chapters were represented in the campaign. These chapters were supplemented by a series of similar spreads selling parts and accessories, although not in chapter form. Headlines in the series said, for instance, ‘‘She’s a full-figured gal,’’ referring to a fully decked-out Electra-Glidecruiser, and ‘‘Drop the wrench. Stand back and look. Laugh evilly,’’ over a gorgeous shot of a Heritage Softail Classic. The ads ran in media catering to motorcycle enthusiasts, including Harley Woman, and also in national general-interest men’s magazines such as Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated, a sure indication of the company’s focus on the large secondary market of non-Harleyowning men.
It should be noted that the campaign was supplemented by Harley-Davidson’s exceptionally thorough dealer support programs, which included a catalog that was virtually a collector’s item among Harley enthusiasts. Rowley reported that many dealers would not give a catalog to a prospective customer until he bought a bike, the catalog then serving as a surrogate until his motorcycle was delivered two years later. The company also earmarked a significant portion of its marketing budget in support of its owners groups, known as HOGs, or Harley Owners Groups, a practice that Harley-Davidson had pioneered long before Saturn automobiles, for instance, began announcing picnics for owners and related support programs.