Archive for the ‘Buzz Colors’ Category

Sam Worthington (Jake Sully) -- Avatar

We’re always being told how moviegoers set new revenue records during the holiday.

Last weekend not only did the movie industry set the largest single weekend at the box office with three movies topping over $50M each, the blockbuster film from James Cameron, ‘Avatar’ set a new 10 day gross total of $212.7M.  Maybe that doesn’t mean anything to you, but how about the fact that the movie has more than 400,000 fans on Facebook?

And though no motorcycles were featured in the movie Harley-Davidson managed to secure a primo clothing promotion from Sam Worthington’s character (Jake Sully) who established an “outlaw” biker image in wearing a H-D logo laden t-shirt in a bar.  More than just a product placement it instantly helped create a rebellious tough guy tone with the audience.  To be candid, I’m not sure I would associate a biker bad boy image with a $35 t-shirt, but like I said it’s a movie.  More important it represents a rare opportunity for Harley-Davidson—a window if you will of opportunity—to be part of something successful and catch some PR/marketing buzz!

Sam Worthington is well known for movie parts with ties to motorcycles.  In Terminator Salvation he played a terminator with amnesia that had motorcycle killing machines based on Ducati’s Hypermotard.  Footage is featured on Ducati’s website, showing the motorcycle terminators being put through their paces during filming.

I’m a fan of James Cameron who is famous for writing and directing successful movies such as Terminator, Aliens and Titanic.  However, as people dropped $15 of their hourly income to absorb the 3D cinematography in ‘Avatar’ — I can’t help but think he’ll be remembered more for being an arrogant ass and reinforcing I’m “privileged” and above the fray.  TMZ posted a video of an alleged “fan” seeking Mr. Cameron’s autograph on an ‘Avatar‘ poster at LAX.  The man is snubbed, threatened and called an ass by the famous and privileged director.  Nice.  Way to put your fans first.

Trying to smooth over the situation musical artist John Mayer wrote a nearly 1,000-word essay on his blog standing up for Mr. Cameron’s a’tude and basically stating it’s okay to be above the fray and crap on the hoi polloi or just ignore the teeming masses… Homey don’t play that no more John.  Never having met the man who ask for Mr. Cameron’s signature, John Mayer quickly assumed he was an e-bay whore.  Now isn’t that fascinating.  Cool that you have an opinion, but talk about the pot calling the kettle black…did you ever stop to think that selling yourself out to corporations and shilling products works for more than just a musician?  Hypothetically even if the guy was going to sell it on e-bay.  So what?  Step down from your mega-million-$$ ivory towers and mix with the regular people.  How much do you think H-D paid Cameron to use that t-shirt?!

Celebrities and musicians are beholden to their audience, the public, and the consumers.  And despite the undeniable pain of the global recession we have been willing to plunk down hard earned $$ to keep you famous for another fifteen minutes!   We’ll forgive the mistake… make apologies and continue to try and get it right in the future.  If not, then we all live with brand new rules because it’s an era of immediacy and 24 hour news cycles.  You’re now in the pit with your customers and if you want to escape the groupies then you’ll have to live in a bathroom with the lights out!

Photo courtesy of Fox.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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American Bombshell - Marisa Miller

Didn’t you know?

Critics argue that “green” is a passing fad. But, don’t tell Harley-Davidson because the marketing professionals have rolled out a military green marketing and media campaign with “American Bombshell” Marisa Miller.

I’m not talking about an “Inconvenient Truth” or environmental type of green.  Yes, Virginia — I’m talking fashion and the wearing of or riding a Green colored motorcycle. The color comes in all shades and the fashion experts suggest/hype that it’s as fresh as Peppermint!

Yesterday, H-D announced that Marisa Miller expanded her relationship and will salute active and retired U.S. military personnel during the month of November.  This is part of the company’s first-ever “Military Appreciation Month” campaign.  Cool and just in time for Veterans Day!

Sporting minimal clothing, Ms. Miller will be sitting alongside H-D motorcycles in military-themed (read Green) creative, including print and digital ads, posters, postcards and calendars throughout the month of November.  In addition there will be a special section of the H-D web site where anyone can create an electronic postcard with artwork of Miller and Harley-Davidson motorcycles along with a personal message of gratitude that you can send to an active or retired member of the U.S. military.

It’s unclear just how carbon neutral, this ad campaign will be – meaning eliminate or offset all of the greenhouse gases it produces worldwide.  I predict a lot of heavy breathing by teenage males when filling out those postcards!  What do you think?  Is green the new black or is it just the flavour du jour?

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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shred_dollarNot to buzz kill the summer riding season, but the current recession is the longest we’ve seen in the post-war period. 

Inclusive of the current downturn, there have been 11 recessions since WWII.  Having officially started in December 2007, this month marks the 19th month of the current “slump.”

As you would expect, cut-backs in consumer spending are visible throughout the economy (see below chart) and Harley-Davidson has felt the weight of the “great recession” too.  The company released its Q2’09 results today and worldwide retail unit sales of new H-D motorcycles were down 30.1% compared to the year-ago quarter. Retail new H-D motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down 35.1% and declined 18.2% in international markets compared to last year’s Q2.  On a “positive” note the company’s earnings were $19.9M on $1.15B revenue and industry-wide retail sales of heavyweight motorcycles in the U.S. declined 48.1% for the same period indicating that H-D performed better than its competition.

In his first quarterly report to the investment community as the new President and CEO Keith Wandell stated:

“While the underlying fundamentals of the Harley-Davidson brand remain strong and our dealers’ retail motorcycle sales declined less than our competitors, it is obviously a very tough environment for us right now, given the continued weak consumer spending in the overall economy for discretionary purchases.”  Wendell went on to say: “We plan to ship fewer Harley-Davidson motorcycles worldwide this year than we anticipate dealers will sell at retail,” which is meant to protect the brand.

consumer_spendingDue to the declines in retail motorcycle sales, the Company has lowered its 2009 shipment expectations by 25-30%.  Because of the lowered shipment volume, H-D announced further headcount reductions of approximately 700 positions in the hourly production workforce and 300 positions in non-production, primarily salaried headcount, including some at HDFS. This is in addition to the previously announced reduction of ~1200 positions bringing the total reduction to approximately 2,200.  H-D started the year with 10,100 employees and of course H-D shares rise on news of the additional layoffs.

Looking forward, the company will introduce its 2010 models on July 25th at its Summer Dealer Meeting in Denver.  I wonder if it’s time again for import duties or a Motorcycle Czar?  For now let’s just hope for a great lineup of motorcycles that will create some riding buzz and motorcycle passion!

Photo and chart courtesy CEA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Sons of Anarchy 

Sons of Anarchy

I previously blogged about media darlings back in May and wanted to provide an update about FX Networks attempt to immortalize outlaw motorcycle “clubs.”  The “Sons of Anarchy” web site is now live and the FX Network TV show debut’s September 3rd. 

In big budget “Hollywood” fashion the FX Network marketing folks have gone all out on this site.  John Landgraf (President and GM FX, FX HD, Fox Movie Channel and FX Productions) pulled out all the stops to fund this series.  The site is jam packed with information on the show with background on cast & crew, a bike gallery, videos and trailer clips.  They’ve added elements of social media in that viewers can participate via mobile or in a community discussion.  The “board” already has a bunch of comments weighing in on the right to wear colors.  I especially liked how they took liberties with and provided a “Biker Terms” section…I guess to help those who are unfamiliar with the biker culture or vernacular and help out any hang-arounds?!

The show was originally called “Forever Sam Crow”,  however, the litigation folks at Hells Angels caught wind of the pilot from Kurt Sutter (writer & director) who was in a Variety interview and noticed there were references to a specific Northern CA. motorcycle “club”…shortly after the interview hit the newswire they received a cease and desist notice from the same “club”.  Something about copyright infringement so, the name of the TV show and club was changed.

Even the club slogan “Live Sons of Anarchy, Die Sons of Anarchy” rings 1%…

Production poster courtesy FX Networks.

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Black HarleyHow important do you think the color of a motorcycle is to Harley Davidson? Plenty! About 40% of shoppers say the will leave a showroom if they can’t find the color of their hearts desire, according to Harley research.

Have you notice lately how aggressive Harley has overhauled its color palette? Many of the new motorcycles feature new paint colors. Crimson Red Sunglo…a Red with more sparkle and more depth and punch to it. Suede Blue Pearl that is soooo ice Blue and Firecracker Red are other metallic paint colors being pushed out to the dealers.

The Harley process of developing these colors is cloaked in a lot of mystery and involves consulting dealers, designers, marketing and manufacturing. And, oh yeah they do try and listen to as many customers as possible.

These color efforts come a bit too late for my Vivid Black Road King, as I had had my fill of the sharp colors and bright paint finishes on previous bikes. Sure Black is boring, but it’s not ugly! As my inner fashion sensibility tells me…it might not be the most trendy, but it’s simple and simplistic designs will win out over fashion in the long run.

But not all bikers like Vivid Black or Black Denim or Flat Black. And that is good news for the Harley color teams who need a job and start by looking at the trends in fashion, product design and the economy…basically anything that may influence change so that they can forecast colors that potential buyers may be looking to straddle and ride in the wind.

For example, that blazing Copperhead color for the 105th Anniversary models was launched on all 2008 models and includes anniversary trim/badges. The color cuts across all models and is a high number for such a trendy color. I can’t help but think this is like that Bright Yellow. Very visible, very trendy, but just wasn’t a big seller. The blazing Copperhead was chosen for the 105th Anniversary models because Orange was going to be a trendy, noticeable color, based on Harley’s research in home and product design. It matched what Harley felt was the sporty, fun, vibrant nature of the brand they are working to relay. And though Silver, Smoke, Black have been popular, the Harley team believe a resurging economy along with “other” factors (read younger demographic) mean more people are going to tire of them.

I’m no color expert, but I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in all the research. I don’t think the bottom is going to drop out on Black, but all this talk of customers wanting fresher colors, more colorful reds, blues, greens and golds — something that is more obviously a color — seems to run counter to what I see on the road. I call these new colors “Buzz” colors. Because Harley want’s their motorcycles to appeal to the upscale boomer generation — like luxury brands at Mercury or Lexus — they assume customers want the same “unique” treatment on their motorcycles? It isn’t about exotic colors with names like Mirage Orange Pearl, Firecracker Red, Crimson Red Sunglo, Golden Glow, Purple Haze, Copperhead Pearl and Red Hot, and Suede Blue Pearl.

I’m still trendy as the new deep metallic Vivid Black will glisten like no other black before it! Why? Because they are using a new glass pigment instead of mica flakes. Sometimes remaking a color has a bit of a re-fresh look to it.

And you thought Black was Black and Blue Suede was for shoes!

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