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Posts Tagged ‘Hip-Hop’

Ludacris

When you dine with the devil, bring a long spoon.” — Machiavelli

Having a ‘thug’ like Ludacris anywhere near your marketing campaign may not be a good thing.  Yet, Harley-Davidson has decided having a pitchman who glamorizes a life of guns, violence, drugs and is disrespectful of women is EXACTLY what’s needed to turn around motorcycle sales.

The “hoes in different area codes” rapper has released many songs that convey and represent his morals.  Even President Obama said he wouldn’t let his daughters listen to his rap, but did admit Ludacris was a ‘great businessman’.  Political pandering is not my point here.

Recently H-D collaborated with RIDES Magazine to create custom bikes for recording artists Ludacris and Shawnna.  This promotion was in part to gear up for the release of their album “Battle of the Sexes”, where the artists worked with RIDES and “New York Nick” Genender, shop owner of NYC Choppers, to create bikes that reflect their individual personalities.  There is a behind-the-scenes video of the build HERE and more videos/photos can be viewed at RIDES.  In addition, they’re giving away a motorcycle to one lucky winner: a customized 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom, created in part with suggestions by RIDES readers. Learn more about the bike or enter for a chance to win HERE.

Is this a shrewd advertising move to use a pitchman who’s going to draw attention to a community that H-D wants to sell motorcycles to or is this a mistake to promote and associate the H-D trademarks with a person that espouses violence, degrading sex and substance abuse?

Does anyone remember how fast Pepsi pulled the ‘musician’ from its soft-drink advertisements in 2002?

Photo courtesy of H-D and RIDE.

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Danny Gokey

Danny Gokey

Not the town famous for building the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but I’m talking about Danny Gokey.   He made the top 3 on American Idol even after unleashing a cat scratch yelp that would have made Howard Dean (famous ‘Dean Scream’) proud!  The song he chose was one which Steven Tyler performed so well over the years… “Dream On.”

The iconic song was released as Aerosmith’s first single in 1973.  It achieved minor hit status on the initial release and climbed to #59 on the charts back in the day when radio meant something.  It made it to #6 when it was re-released in 1976.  Remember this was in the heady days of Thin Lizzy, 10cc, Ramones/Talking Heads and Steve Miller.

But I wanted to come clean as I did something I’ve never done before.  Anyone who grew up on Little Feat instead of Lil Wayne has probably done it. Maybe you were in a crowd of motorcyclists a little younger, and in a vain attempt to appear relevant you made the mistake of turning to a vernacular with which you were not comfortable.  Maybe you were even trying to be ironic, but still hip, when you blurted out, “’Sup, dawg?”

Sure it’s been made famous by Randy Jackson and is a non-descript term of endearment, but this so-called urban slang and phraseology only confirms that I just did a “drive-by” on African-American ethnic backgrounds.  It’s just another meaningless and hideous massacre of the English language they call ebonics.  Here’s the thing.  I don’t know about why I used it, but ebonic language is more often used by thugs or gangsta rap (like phat, hood, bounce, hoe etc.) artists as a way to express where they’ve come from or by youth at the suburban mall wearing the baseball cap sideways.  Neither of which I qualify.

I guess I was really feeling it last night.  Back to my peeples.. 

Photo courtesy Fox/Idol.

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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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