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Archive for February 19th, 2009

donnellyReally?  Or at least that is what Harley-Davidson’s chief marketing officer (CMO), Mark-Hans Richer hopes for with the new Sportster Iron 883.  Richer was hired as CMO in July 2007 after leading the marketing efforts at General Motors’ Pontiac unit.  So, I ask Mr. Richer have you truly met with today’s youth (see illustration) to understand their eclectic buying style and randomness?

Don’t get me wrong I like the gothic stylized Iron 883 bike, but in an economic acknowledgment of the challenges of selling premium motorcycles, Harley introduced a print ad aimed to play off the Iron 883’s low price with a focus on appealing to youth and non-traditional audiences. The message:

“About six bucks a day. Cheaper than your smokes, a six-pack, a lap dance, a bar tab, another tattoo, a parking ticket …”

This might be Mr. Richer’s idea of an “off the hook” marketing offensive, but I don’t see how it will attract younger buyers.  Especially blacks or Hispanics.  Wouldn’t applying principles of the “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” provide better reach?”  It seems that Harley-Davidson is trying to be everything to everyone all the time.  They look to uptick their image with riding mom’s of all shapes (soccer and hockey) to traditional geezers and even one-armed midgets if they didn’t think it would hurt the brand!

harley_883No disrespect to ethnicities or “height challenged” members of society, but I think Harley has fallen down in delivering a motorcycle rider message.  They have become just part of the blah, blah, blah advertisement (nausea) “noise.” Isn’t it time to reach out beyond the comfort zone and get a ‘hip-hop’, bump-pumping gangsta makeover?  I’m talking about an extreme makeover with a page borrowed from Gravediggaz.  Melding the dark and gothic themes of the Iron 883 with a hardboiled gangsta rap phenomenon.  Include a bundled switch-blade skull knife along with models named; Grym Reaper, De La Soul, Dubsteppah or Aristacrank if you have too.

Do keep in mind that I’m only one customer’s viewpoint and statistically there’s always a significant chance that a reinvention attempt will not only fail to revive the brand, but indeed may actually succeed in killing the “bling.”  Tangential, do you remember country singer Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines?  Pretty much a textbook example of an extreme makeover and once people listened to the album – supposedly the greatest hits of a fictional musician with a…oh, screw it, Brooks’ career went totally Tom Cruise cold and now he’s doing Saturday morning cartoons in clown pants!

Memo to Mr. Richer – know your customer/demographic.  For example, during a press conference for Valkyrie in Rio de Janeiro, Tom Cruise greeted the Brazilian press with ‘Hola’ and ‘Gracias’ before saying he fell in love with Brazil while watching movies about Tango.

They speak Portuguese, the idiot. And dance the samba!

Photo courtesy HD and illustration courtesy Australian artist Eamo Donnelly.

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81A metonym is a word that denotes one thing but refers to a related thing.  For example “Washington is a metonym for the U.S. Government.”  And the number 81 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet which is “H” and the first letter which is “A”:  HA = Hells Angels.

And speaking of the number 81, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. has taken legal action against Fawn Myers (Visalia, CA.) and the Internet domain name registrar (GoDaddy.com) for trademark infringement.  The motorcycle club which is defined as a California nonprofit organization, states that Fawn Myers and GoDaddy.com are trafficking in domain names that infringe the club’s trademarks.  They put longtime outside counsel Fritz Clapp who is representing the club on the domain case.  For reference it is Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. v. Myers, 1:09-cv-00118, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Fresno).

I’m just a little curious if Fawn was somehow new to the “internet thing” and received one of those confusing pop-up-ads — you know the type like the jack-in-a-box, in your face when surfing the net that describes (FLASHING) “great opportunity” for a business start-up — work from home — let your computer do all the work?!

It seems the “allegedly” infringing domain names were offered for auction on EBay, according to the complaint filed Feb. 11th in federal court in Fresno, CA.  The domain names offered for auction were ha-mc.com, All81.com, USA81.com, and 81mc.info.  The names were offered for sale on EBay beginning Feb. 7th.  Fawn stated on eBay that the names up for sale were “parked” with GoDaddy, and that she would donate “a majority of the profit” from the domain name sales to the society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Evidently Fawn doesn’t know how to do the “Google” and didn’t correlate the number 81 with Hells Angels when she bought the domain names.  Yet, the HA-MC.com name was offered for $8,181.81 and according to court papers all the eBay pages listing the domain names featured an illustration of a devil’s head which remarkably looked similar to the HAMC logo.  Go figure.

This looks like an open and shut case of cyber-squatting and the HAMC will likely recoup damages from the infringement.  But what happens if the motorcycle club decides to push legal limits and seek damages from very legitimate domain names like hamc.org which belongs to the Hebrew Academy of Morris County in New Jersey, or the name hamc.com which belongs to the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby, N.D.  Where does symbolic naming end on the internet?   From a math point of view the number “81” is the square of 9 and the fourth power of 3 and that like all powers of three 81 is a perfect totient number.  Will mathematic books now be required to provide accreditation to the symbolic number of the club?

How ironic would it be if Google used the same cyber laws on HAMC for a “likeness” infringement re; the Hells Angels search engine called Go81gle?

Photo courtesy Flickr

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