In today’s edition of flailing at absolutely everything in order to get into the “youth market,” Harley-Davidson has partnered with Vice Media company, a famously young-adult-oriented media company, to make ads for them.
Instead of coming up with any substantially different motorcycles, Harley has apparently decided that it’s just not reaching the youth market as effectively as it could, and so has partnered with Vice Media to try to do just that. Note, there are a bunch of different “Free Reign” videos from Vice, “in partnership with Harley-Davidson” available on YouTube, or, if you like, The Twitter.
This one is one of many shorts which attempt to focus on a connection with The Younger Generation. Props for that, seriously, because "kids these days" definitely need to get outside more. The bikes currently available from the manufacturer, though, have historically mostly appealed to a distinctly older demographic. Getting younger riders interested in their machines is vital to any company; if your customers age out, your product, your manufacturing, and your organization will go belly-up.
I only wish it didn’t feel quite so pandering. Yes, they’ve found real people to interview for these spots, and yes, they are probably all pretty enthusiastic, but we are motorcycle people and we know better. All of us who are enthusiastic about motorcycles are not brand-specific, and would definitely encourage kids to get on a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle, especially a small and inexpensive one. Trying to get a teenager onto a Harley-Davidson is an extremely difficult sell, given the average price of the bikes, their expected future income rates, and the machines’ comparative performance numbers.
Partnering with a company like Vice Media is an interesting move on Harley’s part, but they’re mostly preaching to the choir with these ads. If the suspiciously low number of comments on YouTube is any indication, they’re removing the comments they don’t like, or which go against the brand message. That’s all Vice, because they’re savvy with the social media.
Note that each of these shorts includes a disclaimer along the bottom of the screen assuring the viewer that these are real people and they swear “their views and actions are their own.”