The great State of Wisconsin has begun to offer Harley-Davidson branded vanity license plates to its four-wheeled constituency. With the words “Share the Road” wedged underneath a double-dose of Harley-Davidson branding, the proceeds of the new plates will go to help fund State-sponsored motorcycle safety programs (a worthy cause).
Admittedly, we’re having a hard time with this story. On the one-hand, we love to see that motorcycle safety courses and programs are getting funded. There is a need to educate new riders, and to generally be good stewards for our sport and industry. On the other hand though, we generally frown on the commercialization of public programs, and while Wisconsin is the home of America’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, the whole thing just feels dirty.
While the WisDOT website is quite quick to explain that “Harley-Davidson receives no financial benefit from the sale of these plates,” WisDOT makes no mention of how much money Harley-Davidson has plunked down to have its logo and initials emblazoned on any four wheeled vehicle whose owner pays $40 per year.
Although Harley-Davidson may not be getting a portion of that $40 fee, the company is getting a great advertising opportunity by having its logo on a license plate. Hell, these license plates are a steal in marketing CPM terms at virtually any reasonable. Like the Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson edition truck, we’re sure that Harley enthusiasts will want to brand themselves accordingly with this government issued item.
The whole issue feels like a desperate move made by both a distraught company and cash-strapped state, your mileage may vary though. Leave your thoughts in the comments.