Don’t adjust your computer screen, you’re at the right website…and no Harley-Davidson hasn’t taken over A&R, but the Milwaukee company certainly has been busy the past few weeks. To recap, Harley-Davidson recently agreed keep its Monemonee Falls and Tomahawk plants in Wisconsin after the labor unions agreed to workforce concessions (getting paid $215,000 a head for each laid off worker in the process) and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce handed out a $20 million tax break.
That victory was offset by Harley-Davidson getting dumped last month by long-time ad agency Carmichael Lynch, with a classic “it’s not you, it’s me” press release (which if high school dating us taught us nothing, means it really is YOU). Meanwhile this week, Harley was dumped in a different fashion when Interbrand, the world’s largest brand consultancy firm, dropped the Bar & Shield brand 22 places on its T0p 100 brands list, down to 97th, and devalued the Harley-Davidson brand by over $1 billion in brand equity. This is of course nothing compared to the coup de grâce, where Harley-Davidson sold MV Agusta for €1, after buying the bankrupt Italian brand for $100 million two years ago.
Hoping to right the ship, Harley-Davidson announced today that it has created a 13th Board of Directors seat, and filled it with Levi Strauss & Co. CEO R. John Anderson.
Anderson’s presence to the board will bring experience in growing sales in Asian markets, not to mention managing one of the largest apparel brands in the free world. Levi Strauss & Co. is of course the owner of the Levi’s jeans brand, which has customer profile that’s very similar to the one Harley-Davidson is trying to crack into. Harley-Davidson isn’t saying what the exact motivation was for bringing Anderson into the fold, but with his operational and foreign experience, we imagine it has to do with finding places to trim fat from the carcass, and helping the Bar & Shield grow in the booming Asian markets.
Welcome to the party Mr. Anderson, you’ve got your work cut out for you.