Campaign targets younger, more globally aware customers
Harley-Davidson has unveiled a new advertising campaign that seems particularly well-timed in the face of the current socio-political climate, centering on the slogan: “All For Freedom. Freedom For All.”
The slogan “celebrates Harley-Davidson’s enduring legacy and the pursuit of freedom that unites all,” according to the Milwaukee-based manufacturer. The company has promoted the idea of freedom through motorcycling for quite some time, of course, but this week released a series of videos aimed at focusing attention on that idea – especially among riders from outside the company’s traditional core audience.
Keen observers will spot multiple ethnicities, foreign locations, and quite a lot of female riders in the new ad. Big-bellied white guys are nowhere to be seen and the only beards are those being worn by Sikhs and hipsters. Also featuring prominently are Sportster models – the platform driving sales as Harley expands in Europe and Asia. Indeed, touring models, which are Harley’s bread and butter platform in the United States, are almost entirely absent.
The message, then, is one of global outlook, individuality, diversity, and youth. But for a very quick snapshot of Harley-Davidson’s founders and early 1900s racer Ray Weishaar, the only allusions to the company’s storied past come in images of racers from the 70s – a time period that ages the brand enough to make it feel authentic but not so much that it seems old-timey. (That said, the use of Primal Scream's 1991 hit "Movin' on Up" strikes us as a little more dad-like than retro-cool)
The new ad campaign “is part of our 10-year global strategy to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders,” according to Sean Cummings, Harley-Davidson senior vice president of global demand.
“We are on a mission to grow the sport of motorcycling globally,” he added. “To reach that ambitious goal, we need to increase our brand’s relevance and inspire new riders to experience the same freedom that all H-D riders feel in the saddle. This new work does that by celebrating the passion, freedom, and emotional pull of the open road.”
Meanwhile, we can’t help but respect the subtle, clever dig at Indian Motorcycle through the use of the Ray Weishaar image. Weishaar was part of a dominant group of pre-World War I factory racers known as the Wrecking Crew. The nickname was stolen by a group of Indian riders a few decades later, and was resurrected recently for Indian’s almost-unbeatable American Flat Track team, but it seems Harley would like to remind folks where the name really came from.
READ MORE: How Harleys Became Known as Hogs | RideApart
We’re also tickled by the tiny bit of fine print that reads: “When riding your own Harley-Davidson like these people, please ride free and safe. We care about you. Always wear appropriate riding gear.”
We care about you. You certainly wouldn’t have seen that statement in promotional materials a decade ago. It seems the company really is changing with the times.