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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Remember that outsider who kept Harley-Davidson on the road?

Keith E. Wandell (retired H-D CEO) grabbed the handlebars at the company in the heart of the economic crisis in 2009. Harley lost $55 million that year, as buying a motorcycle stopped being an option for many consumers.

Wandell made some big statements. “Don’t let Harley-Davidson become General Motors!” Look in a mirror, he told staff – Harley was already so far down that same path [as GM] “it wasn’t even funny.”

Wandell took bold action and made quick decisions to focused the company on doing what many say it does best: Making big, powerful, premium-priced cruisers.

Keith Wandell

Keep in mind, this was when the great recession and credit crisis sent shockwaves through Harley-Davidson. In less than one year, bike shipments dropped about 25 percent.

Wendell cut the workforce – at least 2,700 hourly workers and 840 administrative employees. The economy was in the tank, the motor company had a big union labor force and old manufacturing processes.  People were just churning and everything was upside down at the company.

Imagine…

I’m not talking about celebrities’ filming themselves singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, from their multi-acre estates and whining about their COVID-19 pandemic isolation.  Never has disproportionate privilege been so apparent and I for one am really fed up with their self-serving need to be in the public spotlight with style-over-substance videos.

But, I digress…

Mark-Hans Richer

It is equally important to recall Wandell’s right-hand “stunt man” — you may remember him as that over-the-top marketing genius who had women screaming, grown men crying and Oprah jumping up and down, chanting: “Everybody gets a car!

I’m talking about Mark-Hans Richer, who was Sr. VP, Chief Marketing Officer at Harley-Davidson, prior to his 2015 departure. Granted, Richer is currently employed at Fortune Brands, but with the mass exodus at Harley-Davidson and salary decreases across the executive staff it’s plausible to pull him back into the H-D team.

Richer, generated the most bankable kind of publicity: controversy.  He made the difference between a motorcycle brand being a rock star versus more employees working in the rental lot.

He’s the charismatic dude that dropped a Dyna Super Glide on Pope Francis at the Vatican.  Then turned around at a press briefing and said, 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.  Later he pontificated that a Harley costs less than “another tattoo, a parking ticket, a gas station burrito, and a lip ring” in an appeal to what makes millennials tick.  In 2002, he helped the company get named Company of the Year by Forbes magazine.

110th Anniversary Celebration

In a university commencement speech, he stated: “Everything I ever learned from business, I learned from Willie the Wildcat stuffed animal,” a business he started right out of college.  Richer secured the first major worldwide sports sponsorship for Harley-Davidson at UFC and was instrumental in X-Games marketing.

No, I don’t have a man crush.

Richer was a key contributor of the “Ride Home” anniversary events.  Do you remember when returning to the mecca of motorcycling in Milwaukee was truly an EVENT i.e. the 110th Anniversary festivities featured 60 bands, including Aerosmith, Kid Rock and ZZ Top.  Remember that 3 ½-hour set by Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band at the 105th Anniversary?   How about when Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, committed a major sin on stage by cracking open a Coors in Miller Town?

100th Anniversary Celebration

There was the surprise headliner (Elton John) and outright disaster for the centennial anniversary. Musical highlights included Billy Idol, Kid Rock, Joan Jett, Poison, REO Speedwagon, the Doobie Brothers and Tim McGraw for the 100th anniversary so, people booing and walking out might have been overstated in the media.

Then came 2018 and time to celebrate 115 years of the open road.  Harley-Davidson CMO, Heather Malenshek tells the media the event is all about returning to its roots with a focus on the motorcycle, not the entertainment.  Huh?!  It was an unmitigated flop for entertainment.  She very quietly departs the company in October 2019.  Coincidence?

Indian is challenging Harley’s cash cow, the Road Glide.  BMW has market segment share in the ADV or “adventure motorcycle” sector and recently introduced the new R 18 touring, cruiser configuration to compete head-on with Harley-Davidson and Indian.  Rumors started circulating recently that Honda is introducing a new 1100 Rebel to compete directly with Harley-Davidson.

Pan American

Harley needs more than anything a fast start for a new model to become a breakout hit.  Is that the Pan American, ADV?

The ADV segment is crowded and entrenched with BMW, Honda, KTM, and newcomer Ducati, among others with decades, of dirt-tested refinement.  Harley doesn’t have the luxury of burning up stacks of cash on a another “vanity project.”

The Milwaukee motor company has a very narrow window to establish that hit. Gone are the days when a slow seller can be nurtured into a hit.  Here’s looking at you LiveWire and the “Field of Dreams” marketing of distressed or stigmatized merchandise!  I truly wonder if acting president and CEO Jochen Zeitz or Harley-Davidson management really understand why the LiveWire product is failing?

It’s logically time to recall Mr. Wandell and “CMO head-honcho,” Richer back from spending their days taking lunch at the Polo Lounge and crank up the H-D buzz machine.

What the media’s hourly drumbeat of “panic porn” on the COVID-19 trauma has shown us, cannot be unseen.  A motorcycle-less Los Angeles.  Coyotes wandering on the empty Golden Gate Bridge.  A quiet New York, where you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue.

We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and multi-lane freeways are barren.  Body bags in tractor trailers.  The Oregon beach is an eerie ghost town.  The economy has collapsed and a devastated 22+ million Americans have lost their jobs in four weeks.  It’s a dark feeling of rust, rot and ruin.

Illegitimi non carborundum.” The Latin phrase loosely translates to, “Don’t let the [COVID] bastard get you down.”

Motorcycle enthusiasts are the ones who understand why dogs stick their heads out the window.  In the famous words of a previous H-D CEO, Jeffrey Bleustein, “We (Harley) have to pretend ten fiery demons are chasing us at all times,” and “make the right bikes, at the right time, and get them to the right place!

Let’s all take a deep breath and get ready for a potential Harley-Davidson tsunami. What is about to be unleashed will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again.  Every brand will come to our rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis.

The great American return to normal is coming and you won’t be able to ignore that deafening motorcycle exhaust noise.

Photos taken by author and courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Wikipedia.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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It’s official.  The Great American Solar Eclipse and the potential for catastrophic disaster has produced the first ever Oregon Motorcycle Solar Eclipse Advisory: AVOID RIDING MOTORCYCLES, August 18 — 22, 2017 is the stated recommendation.

Plan to have a good time watching the 2-minute daylight-to-twilight event (around 10:15 am), but just don’t travel anywhere by motorcycle for 5-days!

Huh?  How did we get to this place?

The “once-in-a-lifetime” excitement and buzz surrounding the eclipse is now at Defcon 1 with less than seven days before the interstellar event.  For months people have been on an obsessive pursuit of the perfect photo location.  Get outside advertisements and turn your Oregon journey into a legacy have been everywhere,  Eclipse 101 brochures, guide pamphlets, and preparedness articles are in overdrive across all forms of media.

Advisory: Avoid Motorcycle Riding August 18 – 22, 2017

But, there is this bazaar pre-cog of an impending apocalyptic doom that is permeating the eclipse narrative given that hundreds of thousand of people and their vehicles — perhaps millions — will converge on the already severely overcrowded highways.

Can you spell Oregon anxiety and fear?

Media ratings often drive the “never miss an opportunity to drum up catastrophic hysteria:”  Did you set up a generator ‘war room’ in your basement in case of a state-wide breakdown of electricity and communication?  Did you rent a satellite phone to update your social media channels from Steens Mountain?  Does your family have an evacuation route and disaster preparedness plan?  Did you stock up on SPAM and water?  Do you have a full tank of gas?  Did you buy extra coolant and oil for the engine?  Do you have jumper cables?  Did you purchase a spare tire for your spare tire in case it goes flat?  Did you drain your checking account and now walking around with thousands of dollars in your wallet?  Do you have paper maps in case the cell phone grid goes down?  Did you take a first aid course?  Do you have a roll of duct tape?  Did you buy a package of souvenir: “The Path Of Totality” toilet paper?

Seems silly, but maybe the media should ask us if we remembered to breath?

Is the sky truly falling or is the daily drum beat of “chicken little” prudent preparedness?

I don’t think we want the celestial spectacle any darker and will know soon enough.  Though we might make fun of them a little, looking back, we may also sympathize, but after a long season of eclipse anxiety and survival doomsaying, condensed with all the scientific history, phony viewing glasses and hype — we should all be so lucky as to have yet another boring Monday on August 21st.

TIME photo modified by author with original courtesy of TIME.  TEAM Oregon photo courtesy of web site.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 11.50.13 AMI had someone ask me recently, “Are you going to vote, Mac?” I gave a flippant answer along the lines of, “Can felons vote?” Comically looking to avoid any follow-on political conversation. They responded that they were a democrat.

They missed my point.

Unless you live under a rock you know it’s Presidential election season and that means 24×7 politics. It’s become a favorite sport for the talking heads and something that at times is difficult to watch.  The two parties are worlds apart and each convention had one shameful, but perfectly legal thing in common. Both events and some follow on rallies included protesters burning American flags.

It’s always hard for me to watch that type of demonstration, let alone understand.

And speaking of Colin Kaepernick, who was spotted sitting during the national anthem before a pre-season game… who described in post-game interviews his decision to not stand as protest for what he feels is racial injustice.  Come on, who doesn’t expect there’s a camera everywhere these days? In fact, Kaepernick didn’t stand for the first two pre-season games of this year prior to last weeks display. He wasn’t in uniform, so no one including the media took notice. Or if they did, they didn’t care because Kaepernick is struggling to reclaim lost magic on the field.

Kaepernick is just an athlete, not my role model, but since the NFL has to sell advertising, the media and talking heads, get on the bandwagon and venerates these overpaid people so out of touch with the reality of middle-america.  True that they have pursued their sport for their entire lives, But the talking heads lead us to believe they’re better than us.

They’re not.

I’m not saying we have to like the work of those who make it, but you do have to admire their perseverance and all the hard work they put into making it.

Over the years I grew to respect the American flag more than I ever had as a child.  It wasn’t that I had become more patriotic; it was brought about in later years seeing military honor guard and flag-draped caskets of veteran relatives and friends.  I gained a better appreciation of their patriotism and the artifact of the family pride in how each had served their country which resonated.  I believe you should stand during the national anthem and take your HAT OFF.

People died for that flag, but I’m not here to give Kaepernick a lesson in patriotic etiquette. I’ll sit that one out.

My relationship to the national anthem and what the American flag means reminds me of another philosophical orientation related to the outlaw motorcycle club patch.  A creed of love, loyalty and respect for what a club patch represents to it’s members. It’s the same throughout the motorcycle club world.  There are basic rules to follow, which are really just common sense. You never let it hit the ground, you don’t conduct yourself in a unbecoming manner, never let it be disrespected and never let it be taken from you.

I’m not a member of an outlaw motorcycle club or have a patch to defend, but I hope to God I will always have that American flag!

Photo taken at Northwest HOG Rally – Spokane, WA.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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At Willamette National Cemetery

I remember watching the Vietnam War as a kid and seeing shooting and blood and bodies—and people were serious.  Very serious!

Then years later on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, while watching CNN the contrast was stunning.  I remember thinking, are they reporting on a war, or are they trying to sell me on it?  These days the media is problematic as they would rather be first than be right!  Endless commentary without much reporting.  I’ve always thought that people should get information to make themselves smarter, not just to make themselves feel good and reinforce their viewpoints, but I’ve digressed.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  It is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. Freedom surrounds each of us everyday—as we openly speak our minds, ride motorcycles freely in any city, where worship is feely exercised and where ballots are freely cast to change who will govern this great county.

It is a great county, and let’s take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the consequences of war and remember the families of our Fallen.

Photo taken by author at Willamette National Cemetery.

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I’ve heard this stated many times before… “When the revolution comes, they’ll not only want to know what side you’re on, but what side you’ve been on.”

I’m reading about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and watching the “Occupy Portland” protests skeptically. The protesters in Portland (estimated by police to be about 5000) gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland yesterday after marching from the city’s waterfront.  With so few news outlets in the northwest, we’re not quite sure what these protesters want.  Some say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate “Wall Street.”  You know the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs what seems like the 4th branch of the government!

99%

The one thing we do know is they’re angry, that 1% have all the money and they’ve got next to nothing and believe they are the 99%.

People are hurting. This is not a one party issue. This is a human issue. This is a fight over the future of America.  I’m not saying you can’t be rich, but you’ve got to pay your taxes.  How much should they be?   Let’s start the debate.  However, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, everything they’ve saved, and you don’t exhibit compassion, you don’t reach down to help them, then you’re on the wrong side.

We all know friends or have family members who have worked really hard all their life only to lose their home and get no support from the banks.  The banks are on the wrong side.  Greedy real estate bankers loaned money to anyone who could “fog a mirror” which then cratered the housing market and is now helping bankrupt the country.  Then they demanded taxpayers bail them out, a demand that complicit, corrupt politicians (yes, of both parties) were only too happy to oblige.

Occupy Portland

And, like most of the protestors I’m fed up with the political gridlock in Washington.  Both sides stand in the way of change.  At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush than when Obama was elected.  The middle-class is worse off.  The gap between rich and poor is alarming. Because it stifles ambition. Why make the effort if you can’t get ahead?  And if you think the American Dream still exists, you probably live in Europe, the odds of going from the bottom to the top are much more difficult.

And suddenly all of this is a hot issue?!  Huh?

Some politicians and members of the media have chastised the protesters suggesting that they should stop protesting and go get a job or should instead start companies so they can help form a less self-involved, more gregarious and forward-thinking American capitalism.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Slam the folks trying to shed some light.

These people aren’t against the system. Most are not lazy people sitting around looking for a handout.  They don’t want to bring down America. They just want some sense of fairness restored to the system as it is, and they want a chance to participate and be heard. Instead, they’ve been marginalized by corporate money and ripped off by their banks and financial institutions.  They’ve been promised that hard work and a good education are what it takes to succeed, then slammed by a lack of opportunities, then told by sneering political candidates that if you’re poor, well it’s they’re own fault. It’s not really surprising that things have reached a boiling point.

This isn’t about protests; it’s about how banks, corporations and corrupt government policies are disenfranchising and bankrupting everyday Americans.  The protests are about taking proactive steps towards rectifying — or at least shedding light on — that situation.

Since the Vietnam War, I’ve never seen anything like this as a form of political protest. It’s wrenching, honest and true.  Personally, I can’t stop thinking about this guy,

Photos courtesy of AP (Map), Oregonlive (Pioneer Place) and We Are The 99 Percent.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Mike Zupan (left) and John Zupan (right)

I was on a Southwest flight heading to Sacramento last week reading the in-flight magazine.

There was an article called “Bourbon Barrels” which stated that in Kentucky the number of Bourbon-aging barrels outnumber the state’s residents by more than 360,000.  There are 4.7M aging barrels in use among the commercial distillers.  And that in recent years, the popularity of premium small-batch and single barrel products has skyrocketed to the point where the bourbon industry in Kentucky is in its biggest expansion phase since Prohibition.

While reading this it reminded me of an online article I had read earlier in the week where company executives for Brown-Forman (Jack Daniels) stated that they’ve seen improvements in liquor consumption at U.S. bars and restaurants.  The so-called “out-on-the-town” drinking, a key segment for the spirits companies, had been hurt in recent years by the economy, but with renewed brand development and wider distribution, Brown-Forman stated they are seeing improved net sales growth.

Northeast Marine Drive -Portland, OR.

It was a quick flight, but I had time to read all two-pages of the Oregonian Business section to learn that John Zupan, 66, died.

John who?

John was like many of you who read this blog.  A person who enjoyed classic cars and motorcycles.  He also was the founder of Zupan’s Markets which makes him a grocery store pioneer.  According to my sources he had recently purchased a 2009 BMW motorcycle and was riding it on Northeast Marine Drive when his motorcycle was hit head-on by a motorist.  According to Portland Police reports the car was driven by Edy Porfirio Reynoso-Ramirez, age 32.  Reynoso-Ramirez was driving a 1998 Honda Civic and was speeding in the eastbound lane of Northeast Marine Drive, driving erratically and passing other vehicles.  After the accident Reynoso-Ramirez fled the scene and tracking dogs were used to locate him hiding in an industrial area.  Reynoso-Ramirez was booked into Multnomah County jail with allegations of assault in the second degree, failure to perform the duties of a driver, DUII and reckless driving.  In addition, U.S. Immigration and Customs placed a hold on him.

Edy Porfirio Reynoso-Ramirez (L)

This is a very sad story.  One that occurs to often (drunk drivers (some being undocumented)) and is not easy to get use too.

For some topics, particularly on public health and immigration, summaries are dangerous because they can create the idea that a single or simple solution exists when it’s always more complex.  However, for those who say that the status of the driver is irrelevant, I beg to differ.  If Reynoso-Ramirez were not here illegally, Mr. Zupan might well still be with us.  In Oregon like most all other states acceptable PROOF of residence is a requirement for a drivers license.  It’s unclear if Reynoso-Ramirez has ever been checked to see if he even knows how to drive or if he can even read the road signs? Lastly, by the nature of his illegal status, there is an implied disregard of U.S. laws so, why not drink and drive?  It’s a third world corrupt behavior and one that is problematic.

I’m sure there is a lot of blame to pass around for this accident.  The DMV is at fault for lax documentation measures.  The spirits industry for its continual drive of seeing improved sales or the retail outlet for selling the spirits.  It’s the governments fault because they are lax on immigration.  Geez, even President Barack Obama’s family is embroiled in a similar matter.  His uncle, Onyango Obama, an illegal immigrant was charged with drunken driving in Framingham, MA.  He was ordered by an immigration judge back in 1992 to leave the country, but for some reason just hasn’t gotten around to it. Onyango, who’s from Kenya, is the half brother of the president’s late father and has pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol and is being held on an immigration detainer.

Sadly, drunk drivers come in all shapes, sizes and citizenship status’.

I anticipate that this accident will be placed on the back burner by the Oregon media or law makers as to avoid having any debate over illegal immigration and any associated issues.  What’s worse is that many people out there – especially insurance companies- consider motorcycle accidents, even when the motorcycle rider is NOT at fault, the “cost of doing business” and that motorcycle riders have essentially assumed the risk of getting hurt.   Many non-motorcycle riding members of the pubic, in fact, assume that anyone who rides a motorcycle is asking for trouble and if they do get hurt, well then that is the riders fault even if the rider did nothing improper.

Unfortunately the real issue (drunk and reckless driving) will get buried in the media as questions about who will or will not participate in the Ducks next football practice take center stage…

My sincere condolences to the Zupan family.

Photos courtesy of Zupan.com and Fox 12 News

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Launched in 1994, the “American Rider,” a bi-monthly magazine which targeted Harley-Davidson enthusiasts is folding.

The June issue will be its last.

Advertising is way down, newsstand sales are minimalistic and subscription rates are falling.  As a result the Affinity Group (Ventura, CA) reported their intention is to fold the content into the sister magazine “Rider” which reportedly has a monthly circulation of 140,000.  An on-line presence will continue, but three staff positions were eliminated due to the closure. Hopefully they’ll retain Clement Salvadori who is a contributing author with high quality and interesting articles.

The demise of American Rider has plenty of company.  According to this report there were 367 magazines which shutdown in 2009 and 67 went on-line only.  This number is much improved from the 526 magazines that closed in 2008 or the 573 magazines which closed in 2007.  According to this site which tracks magazine “death pools”, even the all powerful EasyRider and V-Twin publication were caught in combining their circulation numbers as “real” to advertisers and neglected to mention the blending.

It’s not just magazine publications.

One day I expect to open my front door and find a booklet with 4 tiny little pages.  This booklet will be known as The Oregonian.  It could well happen to the New York Times or Los Angeles Times.  They’ve all shrunk the height, the width…got rid of so much material that many question why newspapers are necessary.

The Rocky Mountain News is gone.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, gone.  In fact, since January 2008 at least 120 newspapers in the U.S. have shutdown.  More than 21,000 jobs evaporated.

Be it magazines or newspapers, part of having freedom of the press is the freedom to let whoever is producing the best information be heard.  If that is bloggers then so be it.  To narrow down the parameters of what counts as “the media,” is restricting the press.  There is nothing that states that the NYTimes or NBC are valid news sources and for example the Cyril Huze blog is not.  The validity of a news source is based on their reputation of having produced accurate and responsible results in the past.  Reputable bloggers know this and work hard to abide.

Publishers will either need to change and accommodate the way people want their news, or fail.  That is the way the market works.

Photo courtesy of American Rider/Affinity Group.

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