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Harley-Davidson and Vice Team Up to Make Fancy Ads

Harley-Davidson and Vice

An Effort to Reach A Wider Audience

Interesting and tasteful advertising is something that’s hard to pull off. It takes a good agency or media company most times, and one that’s very well known is Vice. The company knows how to connect with a younger demographic, and that’s exactly what Harley-Davidson is looking for, so it’s a match made in heaven, right? 

Well, not quite. As RideApart points out. This feels like downright pandering, but hey, sometimes pandering works. Vice certainly did its job, delivering a video that’s in line with what a lot of younger people want to see. There’s humor, some feel-good moments, fancy cinematography, and perceived authenticity—which is really just bull crap because it’s literally an ad trying to sell you an overpriced motorcycle.

Still, Harley is making an effort. The issue is that the company’s bikes are too damned expensive. It can reach out to younger people all it want, but until HD either finds a way to bring the price of its bikes down or adjust the economy to put more disposable dollars into younger people’s pockets, I don’t see how many young people can afford a Harley motorcycle.

You could get so much more from a different manufacturer. Unfortunately for Harley, the whole bar and shield, bald eagle, American flag waving thing that it has relied on for the last several decades doesn’t seem to have as strong of an impact on sales as it once did. But I’m curious. What do you think of the video below? There’s no doubt they picked to two riders well. They’re likable enough guys, and the class of kids is a good touch, too. To me, the whole thing feels a little too contrived to move the needle at all.

  1. Nope. This will not excite “the kids.” Also: down on the Germanic font–old, fascist, zero-cool factor except with the extreme right.

    H-D needs to actually “innovate” (in quotes because there’s really no innovation left except electric bikes). They need to pull the stick out of their corporate behind and compete with the rest of the market: ACTUAL (not faux) standards with mid-mount footpegs, USD forks, and lots of ground cornering clearance, bikes that can compete with the Indian flat track-style models, a REAL sportbike (we’ll give H-D a giant mulligan over their utter mishandling of the Buell brand), maybe even actual dirtbikes. Hell, they’ve GOT the engineering power and they’ve got the manufacturing ability.

    They just lack the ability to see that they will die if they just keep doing what they’ve been doing. And the electric bikes? Great, but they still better make more than cruisers.

    1. Agree with you. HD needs to make more than just cruisers. They could pair down on the number of cruisers and offer some unique bikes. They have some things coming, but it might be too little too late.

  2. First of all, I don’t get the Nazi font thing at all. Joseph Goebbels couldn’t have been more proud. It’s a complete buzz kill and a concept that ultimately backfires, regardless of how cool the idea seemed in the board room.

    Anyway, back to the vid. I get the whole economics thing. And inspiring kids to sacrifice their tuitions for the distinction of riding a Harley is a tall order. But what else are they going to get that inspired about? A Honda?? No offense to the metric brand. I’ve owned them. And they’re great bikes. But until this generation knows what it’s like to get on a bike, and go wherever they want to go, as far as they want to go, with all of their stuff, and even a passenger, in all kinds of weather, comfortably; it’s going to be hard to beat a Harley Davidson. And I think that’s the message HD needs to double down on. Because it is an exclusive brand and an extremely magical lifestyle, and one worth striving for. And that’s something you can’t get with any other brand imho.

    1. Hey Victor,

      You’re definitely entitled to your opinion, but other motorcycle brands offer a fantastic experience, too. It may not be like the Harley experience, but some folks will like it better. To suggest younger people can’t get excited or inspired by a Honda or any other brand is straight up silly. I’d argue that they’re getting more inspired and excited about every other brand except Harley. I’ve been inspired by cheap, low displacement bikes before. Heck, my old Sears minibike gets me fired up. Harley is a long way from being the only brand that can inspire younger riders or anyone, for that matter.

      I get what you’re saying in that Harley offers a special experience. I think that’s true, but it’s an experience that isn’t resonating with younger people right now, which is the company’s problem, and a big part of that problem is the price of their motorcycles and brand image. This video is a try to change that a little bit. I’m not sure it pulls it off.

  3. Thanks for the reply Wade. I think the reason it doesn’t resonate with younger people is because they don’t know what they ultimately want. They haven’t been around long enough to let experience steer them. I’ve sold both metric and HD bikes, and more often than not, the younger buyer is looking for something they can afford, and something that’s fast and looks good. They aren’t looking at the functionality aspect of what type of riding they will be doing.

    I wish I knew then what I know now. It’s not so much anymore about going fast and looking cool. It’s about getting to see all the places I’ve wanted to see, and spending time with those that are close to me. I wouldn’t have been to, or seen half of them if it wasn’t for a motorcycle. And one of the biggest misconceptions I had for the longest time, was that touring bikes were for old people. That was until I rode a Limited, with my girl, and our stuff, on a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway. That 1400 pounds of bike, crew and gear, handled surprisingly well. My world was forever changed.

    We can argue about the significance of the stories and traditions passed down for the last 115 years, especially with the younger crowd. And I get how, for a large percentage, it’s a non factor. All I can do is attest to my own personal experience. I tell people if I had all the money in the world, I’d be riding a Harley. Not because of the name, but because they do it better than anyone else when it comes to touring. Most of us get there eventually. And with over 800 homes away from home in the US, if you ever need gear, a part, a new tire or oil change, or just a place to dry off and warm up with some free coffee, they’re there for us. And that’s the message Harley needs to be reinforcing. .02

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