Harley-Davidson is an iconic American brand. The freewheeling American Harley rebel was recognized across the globe, with its bold take no prisoners brand persona. Yes, Harley has an aging problem. Yes, Harley has a gender problem. But, it had one hell of an image and a solid platform from which to tackle its aging baby boomer boy problem.
Like the Marlboro Man, Harley was iconic. It screamed freedom, which screams American. It leveraged every sensory experience to create a great brand experience and its advertising sang it praises. You didn’t have to ride a Harley to love the brand. It was as American as, well, apple pie.
It’s been a few years year since breaking up with Carmichael Lynch. Their relationship with crowd sourcing can no longer be considered a wild fling. The brand no longer playing the field. It’s committed. It feels wrong. For as in your face and raw as the old brand was, I trusted it. It was real. It was American. It was mine – even if I don’t own a bike.
No Cages tells the truth by letting riders write the copy. It’s preaching to the choir – ah, the perils of crowd sourcing. It’s wrong for the brand. It’s the truth of its aging demographic. It’s not the truth this brand needs. Truth in this case is a cultural truth, even when it’s raw. This truth doesn’t embody the American spirit. It doesn’t ignite passion.
I would be the first to admit that the brand’s image is more than macho. I’ll also admit some brands are meant to be macho. More importantly, Harley is a truly “Made in America” brand. Far beyond advertising that is what this brand should be touting. When it comes to truth and transparency and the future of Harley I say Screw It. Let’s Ride.