Thursday, November 26, 2009
Judging the Harley-Davidson campaign by the most common measure—sales figures—would be somewhat misleading, given that the company could have sold every motorcycle it built with or without advertising. Indeed, Harley-Davidson exceeded its goal of selling 10 percent more bikes in 1997, reaching 13 percent, for a total of 96,216 units. But this was due to, if nothing else, a 13 percent increase in production. Had the factory turned out 50 percent more Harleys, the company could have reported a 50 percent sales increase. Yet, based on its own extensive polling of its customers and on the market, management considered the campaign a success. Based on its data, the ‘‘perception of Harley-Davidson as ‘a strong and appealing brand’ increased by sixteen percent during the campaign,’’ according to an agency press release. At the same time the number of core riders who described the company as ‘‘selling out’’—admittedly small to begin with—fell by more than half. Positive publicity continued to generate itself as the media rushed to align itself with the Harley phenomenon, always a sure sign that a brand was hot. In the area of creativity, one of the dealer television spots won a Gold Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, one of advertising’s most coveted honors.