It's official, Harley is Harley no more.
It's clear that Harley SVP and CMO Marc-Hans Richer, the man who presided over marketing for GM as it slid from the global automotive sales leader to number two behind Toyota, has no idea what the brand stands for. That's painfully obvious in this first effort from Harley's new agency, Victors & Spoils, a shop that uses 'crowd sourcing' to generate advertising ideas from both professional and amateurs.
In this particular instance the spot was conceived by an amateur, and it shows.
Yes, freedom is an important part of the Harley brand essence and the promise here is that if you ride a Harley you'll be freed from your cage. Get it? (Added bonus: bikers refer to cars as 'cages.' How clever.)
The spot, however, misses the differentiating essential element of the Harley brand, rebellion. You don't ride a Harley because it sets you free, every motorcycle does that.
You ride a Harley because it feeds that little voice inside you that says, "Go to hell."
Harley has always brought a little Easy Rider and Hell's Angel to their riders' otherwise predictable lives. But now they are giving that up in an effort to broaden their market. They're softening the edges to attract more women and suburbanites, to give it universal appeal. It's an effort that may produce some short term results, but will ultimately kill the brand.
If Harleys aren't bad, if they aren't taboo, if they don't make me feel just a little bit dangerous, I might as well ride a Yamaha.