Ever since Harley-Davidson split with its long-time ad agency Carmichael Lynch, I’ve been increasingly impressed with the Bar & Shield’s advertising efforts. Sure there are still some of the old marketing images that make the American in me want to go tortfeasor on the first Harley-Davidson dealership I drive by, but you’ve got to give Harely one thing, its trying. Dipping its toe into the crowdsourcing philosophy of ad creation, Harley-Davidson has already produced some fairly good ads like its “No Cages” campaign, and is hoping to build on that success.

Seeing traction with the “No Cages” campaign, Harley-Davidson has taken things a step further, and will now be able to crowdsource ideas directly from Facebook. Launching a Facebook app for the new social-collaboration, Harley-Davidsons fans on Facebook can now read the company’s advertising brief, submit ideas to Harley-Davidson, and vote on ideas submitted by other community members. While crowdsourcing advertising creative has been called evil (mostly by the people whose jobs are threatened by the collaborative movement), the plan here is pretty ingenious.

Not only will Harley-Davidson fans be involved further with the Harley-Davidson lifestyle, but since the vetting process on the ad campaigns comes from the Milwaukee loyal, the ad spots will be more relevant and on-message than if they came from non-motorcyclists. There is also presumably a cost-savings factor here as well. The only real downside that I can see with this move is the problem capturing people that aren’t already in the Harley-Davidson club, or worse, not even motorcyclists.

Using Harley-Davidson Facebook fans as a source pool creates a sampling problem, where the fans lobbying ideas have presumably already bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, or are fans of the brand. The challenge of brining in new blood, something Harley-Davidson needs to do desperately, still remains a problem. Of course this is just one piece in a larger puzzle, and you have to hand it to the stuffy big-wigs in Milwaukee, they’ve been learning some new tricks lately.

Source: Dealer News

  • Matt

    Making bikes for Boomers while trying to sell their brand to Gen X may sell a few more T-shirts but I think Harley will find the younger generation is less nostalgic and more media & tech savvy then they realize. I think overall Ambercrombie & Davidson is going to have a tougher sell on the grand kids of there current customer base.

  • buellracerx

    knowing how much engineering prowess and technology is actually integrated into these motorcycles (& hidden, which any engineer will tell you complicates things immensely) I have no doubt that the bar & shield company will be able to engineer and market a more modern product to the younger generation.

    with such a powerful, signature character at the core of their design philosophy, I have no doubt H-D is here to stay. ride one back to back with a jap imitation (for over 100mi), then talk

  • sunstroke

    Nice to see that one of the motorcycle manufacturers has admitted they don’t understand their customer, they can’t develop their market, and they have no idea how to get their message across. First step to recovery. Wonder how much longer until other manufacturers follow suit.

    Crowd sourcing and social media were invented for counterculture.

  • george

    Not trying to hate but I look at HD as a Halloween bike for boomers that want to get their Fonz on year round. It will take more than marketing to resolve this. Cadillac made it happen but not without a total redesign of their product offering. HD could start putting out some true custom dirt-track bikes (e.g. like Mule Motorcycles) to get younger blood in their stores…

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  • Is it Crowdsourcing? Or is it Mob Mentality?? Or is it leaving the Asylum to the Inmates??? I’ve worked for both foreign and domestic manufacturers and I can tell you that they are not going to sharpen any pencils better than anyone else in Milwaukee. The best fit for a motorcycle is the one that you like. Period.
    BTW – I’ve ridden 100 miles+ on both and H-D has no edge.

    Lord I Love Marketing.

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