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Posts Tagged ‘CMO’

Gold top 10 winnerIt’s that time of year when folks are getting ready to ring in the New Year and its customary to provide a Top 10 list.

I decided to pull together a nostalgic list of some of the more ridiculous Harley-Davidson executive quotes.  There are some doozies and it makes a person wonder if they were cocktail chatter or actually written down and prepped by the PR team.  Honestly, it was difficult to narrow it down to just ten, but here they are: 

  1. “I would be really upset if you felt our strategy was about “meeting the nicest people on a Harley” because I can tell you that ain’t the strategy…” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  2. “These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  3. Little did we know we were doing a cross-promotion with God.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  4. “‘Come Together’ is not merely a song in our [advert] spot – it’s an anthem for our relationship with our fans.” Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer (Source: HERE)
  5. “We don’t do trend bikes, or fashion-statement motorcycles. We try to make something that will last forever.” **Brian Nelson, lead stylist on Project RUSHMORE  (Source: HERE)
  6. “I couldn’t care less if I ever wore a tie again.” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell  (Source: HERE)
  7. “None of us get up every morning and want to make people’s lives miserable and see people lose their jobs. If you think that’s the case, I apologize.”  Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell  (Source: HERE)
  8. “We can’t survive on our core customers alone.” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell (Source: HERE)
  9. “The safety of our customers is our highest priority,” Harley General Manager of Motorcycle New Product Delivery Tony Wilcox (Source: HERE)
  10. “We think it’s a dichotomy” Harley Chairman of the Board, president and CEO Keith Wandell (Source: HERE)

There it is.  Do you have any memorable quotes to add to the list?

**Note: Mr. Nelson (#5) is not a company executive.

Photo courtesy of Sam Churchill.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Pinterest Usage Data

Photos as content generates very high newsfeed engagement for all types of users.

And, unless you’ve been living on the Laffing Devils Motorcycle Club fantasy island you’ve more than likely noticed the staggering number of embedded photos on Facebook pages, Twitter and on Instagram as well as other similar type sites.

So, with the marketing resources at Harley-Davidson being at a premium, shouldn’t Mark–Hans Richer, the SVP and CMO of Harley-Davidson be paying closer attention to folks who are pinning photos of motorcycles and motorcycle clothing?  The short answer is yes.  More appropriately someone at the motor company should be standing on a conference room table and ask the question of all the H-D creative’s and strategists… “How did we miss the social growth on Pinterest?

What is Pinterest, you ask?

Pinterest is a kind of visual bulletin–or inspiration–board.  In short order I created one for this blog which you can view HERE.  Users create boards with categories like “Motorcycles I Love” or “Beautiful Motorcycle Places” or “Motorcycle Products That I Like.” Users can then link images from websites or upload images from their computers and “pin” the images to the boards. Similar to Twitter, users can follow other users, and Pinterest images can be re-pinned and shared.

Why should Harley-Davidson take this blog post serious?

Pinterest Growth

Because according to the Experian Marketing Services blog, Pinterest users skew female and young. Fifty-eight percent of users are women, and 59% are between the ages of 25 and 44.  This is a critical and key demographic that Harley-Davidson often states that they are trying to win over and accelerate both clothing and motorcycle purchases.  I’m not paid as a H-D media strategist, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to be visible where potential customers hang out?  This is the biggest no-brainer in the history of no-brainers!

In the U.S., growth in Pinterest has been phenomenal with more than 10 million registered users.  The image-sharing social network grew a staggering 4,377% in the last year, according to comScore’s “State of the U.S. Internet”.  It is outpacing competitors such as Tumblr which grew 168%, LinkedIn (67%) and Twitter (58%).  Outside the U.S. the number of Pinterest users in Latin America for example grew in first four months of 2012 from 153,000 to 1.3M.

It’s time for Harley-Davidson to just Pin it!

However, before they can do that they will need to resolve the issue of domain “parkers” because the current H-D URL belongs to Becky Segovia, yet has no content (boards, pins or activity).

Disclosure:  I don’t work for or have any financial interest in Pinterest.  I do try new technology and developed one for this blog which you can view HERE.

Photo courtesy Modea.com and Experian.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The grueling wait is over!

Harley-Davidson today announced the launch of its latest customer focused strategy in the battle of the motorcycle wars – the new “left-handed” Harley-Davidson® Blackline™ L-Edition.

A full page advertisement in LA Times announced the introduction of the Harley-Davidson® Blackline™ L-Edition, a new model in their 2011 lineup: a left-handed motorcycle specially designed for the more than 35 million left-handed Americans.  According to the advertisement, the new Blackline L-Edition was made of the same high-quality components as the original ‘right-handed’ version (motor, frame, seat, handle-bars, tires, etc.), but all the vehicle operations were rotated 360 degrees for the benefit of the left-handed customers, thereby redistributing the weight of the rider so that the bulk of the controls will skew to the left.

Mark-Hans Richer, CMO at Harley-Davidson, was quoted as saying that the new Blackline L-Edition was “lean as wire, hard as iron and would satisfy the rebellious nature of our left-handed customers.” The advertisement stated that the left-handed Blackline L-Edition would initially only be available in the U.S., but that the company was “considering plans to roll it out to other countries with large left-handed populations.” Clearly the left-handed Blackline L-Edition throws new fuel on a fire that burn’s across many left-handed generations and quenches their desire to ride.

A spokesperson from the Left-Handed Motorcycle Club (LHMC) stated:

“We are enthusiastically behind Harley-Davidson’s recognition of the difficulties riding a motorcycle that has a natural right-hand bias to it.  We urge all left-handed motorcyclists to visit their nearest Harley-Davidson dealer and experience the difference for themselves.”

The skill and care that went into the customization is clear, and the list of parts that were manufactured with a skew to the left speaks for itself: a 1 degree milled-left chrome rocker cover kit and the rear fender was bobbed from the left and placed high-and-tight over a slim, 144mm tire that emphasizes asymmetric left-hand side tread and an authentic hardtail profile. The compact headlight and speedometer were slightly skewed-left and low into the wide, FX front end, and there’s just enough shine to make the black parts look blacker.   Once aboard the Blackline L-Edition, the rider hugs the sculpted left-side frame on the lowest two-up seat ever offered by Harley-Davidson, and reaches high for new Split Drag™ left-handlebars that bolt right to the top of the left-leaning triple-clamp.

In addition, Harley-Davidson introduced a new “Lean Left” clothing line to support the new Blackline L-Edition and the company has teamed up with left-handed Supermodel Sophie Dahl in an innovative left-handed marketing campaign to introduce the latest addition to Harley-Davidson’s high-performance line of ‘Dark Custom’ motorcycles.  Partnering with Supermodel Sophie Dahl is a perfect match as the skewed left Blackline L-Edition sculpted frame and commanding physique complement the left-handed model, who has a recently learned the art of left-handed burnouts.

Please Note: According to a report by CareerBuilder.com, 33% of respondents said they’d been the victim of an April Fool’s Day prank in the office… if you believe this blog post then you’ve just been punked!  Nothing in this post is true and no left-handed people were harmed in the writing of this post.

Photo courtesy of Blue State Creations.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HOG Bank

Start with the “charisma and swagger” of Charlie Sheen, add a little Lady Gaga recklessness, mix it all together with the sensibility of John Mayer, and you’re well on your way to a vibrant digital marketing campaign.

Or at least that’s what Harley-Davidson’s, CMO, Mark-Hans Richer seems to believe.

Taking a page from celebrities and musicians who blazed the path before them they’ve embarked on a crowd-sourcing recipe with Victors & Spoils, a Boulder-based crowd sourcing agency who intends to deliver successful digital marketing.  It would seem that every American company on the planet is amassing a rapidly growing list of crowd sourcing digital data to give marketers an even more precise method for targeting their ad messages to specific consumers.

I know, you hate social media.  More people despise Twitter than use it.  You thought Foursquare was a church.  You like Facebook, but you fear its Big Brother qualities.

Well, you probably don’t understand that Twitter is the number one news source for news happening right now.  But if you can’t wrap your head around that, maybe you should look into SproutSocial, which allows you to track your company in social media.  And if you don’t think social media is key to any company’s future, you’re on the road to extinction.

Mr. Richer totally gets it.  H-D has a multi-generational and multicultural customer strategy with a need to get potential customers more engaged in the brand.

You do that through social media.  But, part of the problem for the motor company is its audience knows too many people, who connect with each other online.  Once consumers start talking to each other not only do they spread the word about the so-called “motorcycle lifestyle,” but they also let each other know which products are good and which ones are bad.  Suddenly, the dealers can no longer jam any old product down the motorcycle riding public’s throat.  It’s bad enough when new products leak in advance and are dead on arrival due to bad word of mouth, but even those that make it to the release date intact are not guaranteed sales.  Because by the end of the week, the target audience knows whether the product is worth owning via references from friends.

It all comes down to who you know.

But, the reason I’m writing this is because of the job market.  Unemployment.  It’s steady at 10.5% here in Oregon.  About a point above the national average and has remained there most of the past year.  Just this past week the Oregonian reported another 300 layoffs by 3 different companies closing down operations.  And if that wasn’t enough did you happen to catch Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last night on 60 Minutes?  He painted a grim picture.  Stating that the U.S. recovery is still not self-sustaining while defended his $600B bond purchase to help keep interest rates low.  Heady stuff.

Oregon and U.S. Unemployment - Dec 2010

I hate to frighten you, but all your partying and drunken pictures are going to work against you in the job market. Inebriation is not a criterion for employment, not even at Miller Brewing.  You see you’re building your resume every day online.  And whether you can get a job or not is based on this resume and who you know.  People always complain how they can’t get a job in this industry or that industry because they aren’t connected.  Hate to tell you, but it just got worse!  No one’s going to hire anyone without a history, who can’t be recommended by someone.  The days of placing a blind ad and taking on all comers is history.  That doesn’t even work on Craigslist, and have you seen the type of jobs on that site lately?

If you want to succeed in the future, you’ve got to know people.  Who can vouch for you.  Ever get called for a reference?  You never lie if you know the caller, it’s your reputation on the line.   And now that we’re all networked through social media, there’s always someone who knows you, who if they won’t say something negative, certainly won’t say something positive.

And you thought you were just playing online?  You see we all live in a social media world.  Scary huh?!  And as if to help prove my point the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was also interviewed and talked about changes coming in a redesign.  For example, instead of a single profile picture, people who visit your page will soon see a row of photos you’ve been recently tagged in.

It might be time to start making deposits in the persona-curating bank account…

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson, SocialSprouts and Google.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Halloween Motorcycle Ghosts

As Halloween approaches, I decided to ponder: What strikes fear into the hearts of Harley-Davidson executives all over the land?

To answer that question, I peeked into a crystal ball, reviewed the Christine O’Donnell ad on “witches” and met with a couple carneys on voo-doo to peer into the subconscious of the motorcycle company’s most powerful execs and see what goes bump in their night.

To be clear: Some of these nightmares clearly stretch the bounds of reality, but some have a level of plausibility. They range from trivial worries to scenarios that could bring down an entire company. Read on to find out about Harley-Davidson executives’ nightmares:

CEO Starts Shooting Black-and-White Commercials: An attempt by Keith E. Wandell (CEO) to humanize the company, explain its brand value and reverse the damage which was done by the glaring hole in his garage when he admitted after being hired in 2009 that he didn’t ride a Harley-Davidson or even have a motorcycle endorsement — he has since rushed out and bought one, placed a yellow one on display in his office, obtained a “Rode Mine to Sturgis” patch and rumors are he’s ordered a 2011 model.  The CEO as pitchman in commercials is not exactly a new concept.  Just look at Sprint who seemingly cornered the market with classy, black-and-white appearances and what it did for them.

H-D Factory Employees Ride BMW: The nightmare manufacturing scenario is this: Matthew S. Levatich (President and COO) calls an all-hands meeting and scores of manufacturing personnel show up riding BMW’s new K1600. Not only would it be a rebuke of the company’s own philosophy, but it would be another sign that H-D’s bet on union workers in WI., was at a dead-end.

H-D Restarts Side-Car Manufacturing and No One Buys Them (Again): John A. Olin (CFO) doubles down on the H-D investment as the marketing efforts were not enough to sell a sidecar-challenged public the first time around, but this time side-cars will have a renaissance comeback.  Or the company hopes so.

H-D Brand Falls Off Top 100 List: Mark-Hans Richer’s (CMO) continued branding efforts to market motorcycles that boasts history over flash results in Harley dropping from the Top 100 Global Brands.  In 2010, H-D went from #73 to #98 — a 24% drop in popularity and brand value. Finding another Malcolm Forbes or Jesse James out there who can provide their personal endorsement will help improve the motorcycle brand value and might keep it on the top 100 list?  In the mean time more advertising is in the pipeline that will lead the public to think that if you own this product you too will be cool.

Fed’s Apply GM Like Pressure On H-D To Be Green(er): Jon Flickinger, (President & COO of Buell) says that H-D being a “tree-hugger” is not the first thing that comes to mind. But, just as President Obama has told our CEO during their lunch meetings, the greenhouse standards will become tougher and H-D will need to aggressively adopt new ‘green’ codes for its factory and dealer network inorder to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s L.E.E.D. certification.  In addition they will add a new electric motorcycle to their product line, based on the Sportster Family.  Lastly and for good noise measure the company will implement California’s, SB 435 law early — on all 2011 models — which requires all street motorcycles built after 2012 to have EPA-labeled exhausts.

Secret Motorcycle Design Found At Museum Teambuilding Scavenger Hunt: Willie G. (Chief Designer) celebrates his design team accomplishments in an elegant 1920’s style glam and glitter – “the new beginning of the motorcycle” – party with everyone’s family in attendance that was hosted by the H-D Museum.  Some H-D employees dressed in the era of 1920’s to 1930’ in their caps, knee socks and knickers to remind people what it was like during the ‘roaring’ yesteryear. The feeling was eerie and mysteriously exciting all at the same time.  The employee’s children participated in a pencil and paper design contest of which an 8th grader defined the motorcycle shape that will be used to create all future motorcycle styles.

Merger Madness: Joanne Bishmann (VP Communications) is weaving a compelling story and spinning the news how Harley-Davidson is pressured into a merger in order to save the company from further manufacturing cuts and/or collapse.  H-D sells 49% of its shares to Daewoo Corporation in exchange for a much needed influx of capital and to pay off the $6B in debt.  Hyosung Motorcycle director, Mr. Ji Jas Ryong (pronounced “jus wrong”) says “We do not expect to change anything with the famous look of the H-D product, other than the logo, in fact we consider it an honor to include it along side Hyosung premium sport bike line.”

What are your thoughts?  Are there other H-D nightmares out there?

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures (Ghost Rider) This blog post is satire and entirely fictitious.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Pastor Terry Jones - Dove World Outreach Center

Luxury brands certainly have teams of brand police within Marketing to ensure their products aren’t being “Brand Jacked” or improperly positioned, but H-D is missing in action when it comes to the racially charged “N” word debate by pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp of Florida’s Dove World Outreach Center.

I’ll avoid getting into the debate over the ‘church’ content, but rather I want to point out that pastor Terry Jones is wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and something like this can’t help the motor company or worse can potentially hurt the iconic brand.

Here’s my take…  H-D has nothing to do with the video, and their brand is being dragged through the “N” word debate to make a, Dr. Laura-esque point about racial double standards.  H-D hasn’t done anything to draw this unwanted attention.  Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center have seen a rapid rise in notoriety for their pending “Burn a Koran Day” on 9/11.  It seems show business have outruled common sense.

H-D can’t control who buys their merchandise, but they damn well sure can respond with a “cease and desist” order on both YouTube/Google and the Dove World Outreach Center/Church.  They should demand an immediate pull down of the video and the CMO should have a “not on my watch” A’tude!  If it gets reposted, at minimum the t-shirt should be blurred out.

H-D as a corporation has diligently worked and spent tremendous amounts of money on their image and brand. Watching from the sideline with a blind-eye or having a “strategy of hope”… i.e. hoping that the dust will settle and there will be no negative impact on their brand would be negligent.  In fact, I’m a bit offended with having a collateral clothing association and checking my t-shirt inventory to trash any similar Mr. Jones attire.

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

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Uh, that would be a NO.

No, I don’t have a man crush on Mark-Hans Richer the Harley-Davidson CMO.  But, we do have some things in common and that is we’re both motorcycle enthusiasts of double-digit years, and proud owners of H-D motorcycles.

Mark-Hans Richer is the “Billy Mays” of pitch men for H-D products, brand and lifestyle.  He pontificates about the rebellious nature.  He’s on the advertising speech circuit.  He is an opportunist.  He defends H-D founding fathers and their ideals.  He mixes up speeches with dramatic entrances.  He quotes the younger generation and the thanklessness of posterity.  He laments about young-rebels-with-tats ethos.  He slams “American Idol” and aligns product placements with fictional motorcycle gangs (“Sons of Anarchy”) through the use of attitude-enhanced advertisements, social media efforts, and lifestyle programs around counterculture happenings.

Mark-Hans Richer (H-D CMO) Dramatic Entrance

To say Richer is a marketer would be like describing Bill O’Reilly as just another news anchor.

Richer is a blow-hard motorcycle zealot to the core evangelizing and marketing a company strategy.  He would make Peter Drucker, the management guru of the 20th century PROUD.  It was Mr. Drucker who stated, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

So, what’s behind the man sticking it to the man, the chief marketer or H-D rock star?  Mr. Richer joined H-D in July 2007 as the Sr. VP and Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with primary responsibility for overseeing all global marketing activities including promotions and advertising, motorcycle product planning, the H-D Museum, and the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.).

Mark-Hans Richer (at Pontiac) Slammn'

Prior to joining H-D, Richer held marketing and advertising positions at General Motors’ defunct Pontiac brand. In November 2006 he was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement for his career of high-impact, non-traditional marketing approaches. These include two Cannes Gold Lion-awarded marketing programs while at Pontiac, and prior successes helping lead advertising and promotions at GMC and Chevy Trucks. Richer also has previously won three Effies, the PMA Super Reggie, Promo Magazines’ interactive promotion of the year and a Kelly Award for best national print.

Harley-Davidson is lucky to have hired this motorcycle in every garage evangelist!  Richer has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (remember the Pontiac Give Away?), The Apprentice III and V, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CNBC. He has been on the cover of Promo magazine and Advertising Age’s Point. He and his team’s accomplishments have been covered by Advertising Age, Ad Week, Brandweek, Media Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, NPR Radio, The New York Times, Chief Marketer Magazine, Business 2.0 and Fast Company among many others.

Have I blogged about H-D marketing tactics?  Yes.  Have I’ve been critical of some H-D marketing?  Yes.  But, how do you fault a guy whose job it is to find new ways to “stick it to the man” so to speak?!  In the Greek to New Jersey dictionary that translates to – ti na kanoume – whaddya gonna do?

Seeing this as a small hurdle, I decided to take a different angle and set out on a behind-the-scenes, unauthorized “tell-all” blog – everything Richer – and the icon behind the worldwide marketing empire at Harley-Davidson.  I did my best “Nixon Deep Throat” impersonation and was hopeful to uncovered it all…sham marriages, secret informants, shirtless outtakes in Cosmo, fear of flying, a celebrity-Melisa-Miller-addiction dysfunction, or personal hygiene habits that would make Michael Jackson blush, but I didn’t.  There is nothing worthy of TMZ.  Nadda.  Mark-Hans Richer is either squeegee clean boring or has a brilliant publicist who ran interference — always putting a good spin on whatever embarrassing predicament their boss found himself — like that time as the marketing head of Pontiac he jumped up on a conference room table in a Digitas meeting to shred a few tunes on Guitar Hero.

It turns out that Richer is the marketing real deal.  It reminds me of that saying “A marketer without the press is like a pencil without a sharpener: pointless”!  All he wants to do is sell Harley-Davidson, the brand, the motorcycles, the lifestyle and talk about the achievement of double-digit sales to young adults.  Look for a Richer “Fan Club” page coming to a Facebook near you…

Photo courtesy of H-D, WARC and SlyFox.com.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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