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Archive for October, 2014

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Advert in 2012 – Nothing can replace the real one. Use original Harley-Davidson parts.

Halloween’s coming, and with it “mischief night”—which means it’s the season for pranks.  And being on a Friday night this year means egged houses and toilet-papered trees are the order of the day for the mischievous.

Did you know that Harley-Davidson has been pulling clever pranks for years?  All with the intent of snagging the attention of often-distracted online observers/customers.

This phenomenon, has a name now—“prankvertising”—which has really ramped up in recent years, perhaps because of Halloween or maybe because agencies like doing the unorthodox and testing consumer limits.

The photo with this blog post is an in your face example that mashes all the politically incorrect buttons.  Some would debate it provides confirmation of how completely out of touch Harley-Davidson is or was in deploying this image as a visual ‘joke.’

Is the motorcycle culture’ a petri dish of people who know so little about human social interaction and how professional life works that advertising agencies can concoct up this stuff straight-faced, thinking there are no consequences?

I’m sure some of you will view this as demeaning, insulting and extremely sexist. Harley-Davidson on the other hand and their agency (Big), didn’t think they were objectifying or exploiting women in this ad or even blink by portraying women and comparing them to a motorcycle part, and picturing them as sex toys.

Full Disclosure:  My initial reaction when I first saw the ad and tag line, “Nothing can replace the real one. Use original Harley-Davidson parts,” was to laugh out loud and marvel at the clever humor, but then political correctness kicked in and I made a note that advertising agencies should really realize their responsibility towards society and their target audience.  Given Harley-Davidson’s significant outreach to the woman demographic for motorcycle sales it’s highly unlikely you’ll see something like this again.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Big, İstanbul, Turkey

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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vlam2014_lowresThere is about a week left before Election Day.

Remember motorcycle-only checkpoints?  Too much ethanol in gasoline?  Health insurance discrimination against motorcyclists?

There is and have been a wide variety of issues on Capitol Hill related to motorcycling.  Election Day choices will affect motorcyclists and that’s why it’s important for all of us to cast our ballots in the November general election.

The AMA Government Relations Department put together a guide for their members and you can access it (HERE) to take stock of where candidates stand on motorcycling issues as you decide how best to cast your ballots.

Some members in the winner-take-all government believe this wild ride on robot scooters from the guys at OK Go represent motorcycling at it’s finest…  a clever video, but they are clearly not masters of “wind in the face” road trips!

Photo courtesy of AMA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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2015 Road Glide

2015 Road Glide

Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Execution is everything.

We know that behind the success is a lot of unseen work by the employees and dealers, but is Harley-Davidson ever executing!

Success is hard work and very few want to do the heavy lifting.  Because it’s boring, because its challenging, because no one is paying attention and it might not pay off in the long run.

However, passion and excitement are contagious and leading the Q3’14 financial news announcement is how the new 2015 Road Glide models were the best-selling 2015 Harleys!  The Road Glide was the highest selling model from the new line-up, yet only constituted 4% of the net retail sales this quarter, down from 8% in Q3 2013. This was because the model was only available since the latter part of the quarter, and is now expected to spur domestic sales in Q4.

2015 CVO Street Glide

2015 CVO Street Glide

Sure there was continued strong demand for Street Glides and Ultras, which contributed to the strong sales and the new Rushmore models including the CVO Street Glide, the Electra Glide Ultra, Classic Low and Ultra Limited Low and the Freewheeler, a trike all contributed.

Retail sales at dealers in the US, which account for two-thirds of Harley-Davidson’s business, jumped 3.4 percent in the third quarter as domestic dealers rolled out 50,167 new motorcycles onto the highways.  Keep in mind that motorcycle sales rose this quarter despite a tough comparison with last year’s huge launch of Project Rushmore touring bikes, which had fueled a U.S. sales surge of more than 20 percent.

The stiffer competition from Indian didn’t seem to materialize, but there was a profit hit from an unprecedented number of motorcycle recalls, which cost the company $14 million in the quarter or approximately $0.04 on EPS.

Here are some of the financial stats for Q3’14:

  • There are now more than 1,450 H-D dealers in 90 countries
  • U.S. market segment share (MSS) was flat at 56.3%
  • Harley reported that net income for Q3’14 was $150.1 Million, or 69 cents per share, a decrease of about 8 percent compared with $162.7 Million, or 73 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.  The company cut shipments to dealers who had been saddled with inventory after a slow Q2.
  • Revenue for Q3’14 was $1.3 Billion, down from $1.34 Billion. Supply chain problems with the Street, its newest motorcycle platform, caused the company to delay shipping the motorcycles.
  • Harley dealers worldwide sold 73,217 new motorcycles, up from the 70,517 sold in the third quarter of last year.
  • Harley expects shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 to increase by3.5 to 5.5 percent from 2013, which had been a record year for sales.
  • 30-day delinquency rate for motorcycle loans was 3.0% vs. 3.11% in 2013.

Congrats to everyone at H-D on the great execution in the quarter!

Photo courtesy of H-D.  Full disclosure:  The author does not own HOG stock or have a financial vested interest in the company.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Easy Rider Poster at Sunset Gower Studio

Easy Rider Poster at Sunset Gower Studio

Last spring I happen to be in Hollywood on a work gig and got a Sunset Gower Studio tour.  Sunset Gower has been part of the Hollywood film history since there was a Hollywood.

While wandering through the writers’ suites and the studio lot I walked down this hallway and came across an Easy Rider poster.  The Sunset Gower sound stages were used for the movie.

No one could have predicted that Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s small budget film, fueled by motorcycles and amazing music would redefine pop culture.

In fact, it’s impossible to even think about this film without the opening riff of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” echoing in your head.  In the movie industry, it’s rare that a film and its soundtrack break through to the masses.  Easy Rider was an incredible success commercially and culturally (it inspired an entire genre and a hundred knockoffs), and the impact of the soundtrack was revolutionary.

“The idea was to have the music which accompanies the cross-country cycling scenes reflect current times,” Peter Fonda told Rolling Stone in 1969. By compiling prerecorded tracks and music specifically created for the film to make a “musical commentary” and companion to the movie.

IMG_2785Additionally, the Easy Rider soundtrack laid the groundwork for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Pink Floyd-led Zabriske Point the following year and nearly every classic film soundtrack of the next four decades, from Singles to Forrest Gump to Drive.

The soundtrack paints a picture of the counterculture on the brink of the Seventies.   Steppenwolf’s get-on-your-bike-and-ride anthem along with the bluesy dealer epic “The Pusher,” and the classic cuts from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Holy Modal Rounders and the Byrds (whose Roger McGuinn also scored the film) makes an epic film.

As the story goes, Bob Dylan was recruited by Peter Fonda to pen the film’s theme “Ballad of Easy Rider,” (soundtrack) and after jotting out a few lines, told the actor to give the lyrics to McGuinn to flesh out.

Photos taken by author and courtesy of Sunset Gower Studio and Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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