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.

Source: AMA

  • buellracerx

    no different than our Brewers-emblazoned plates. throw them under the bus too if you me they’re both a waste of $$$, but hey let people express themselves if they want to

  • irksome

    It should read “Share the road while we fuck the unions”.

  • johnrdupree

    I wonder if any of the Japanese Big Four or any of the Euro brands could get their logo on a Wisconsin plate. That would be a test of dirtiness.

  • @buellracerx: I thought someone would bring that up. I wouldn’t throw a baseball in the same tent as another corporation. Cities and States are intrinsically tied to professional sports teams. Some own the stadiums (some even own the teams), and almost all of them have a seat at the decision-making table.

    Of course, one could make that argument for Harley-Davidson. I’m not sure how many other billion dollar enterprises are in WI. This is of course the likely reason this deal was put together: let’s appease one of the largest corporations in the state.

    John, I think you’re right…I wonder if another moto brand would be able to swing this deal with WI.

  • RGR

    Is this the same Harley Davidson that screwed the workers and threatened to pull out of Wisconsin if the state didn’t pony up with a bunch of tax incentives, etc.? It’s funny to me that people are so proud of Harley’s US roots. They are nothing but a money-hungry corporation with no loyalty to their employees, hometown, or customers.

    If it wouldn’t cause a major uproar, you know perfectly well they’d be first in line to move production to an Asian country to save money. HD is ONLY about the money. If you think otherwise, you’re fooling yourself. Personally, I think the tricks they’ve played lately are shameful and would never own anything with their logo on it (if they actually made anything I was interested in).

    If I could afford a $40k EBR, I’d buy it just to piss on HD.

  • irksome

    @RGR: Hd has gone from a motorcycle manufacturer to a marketing firm and they’re now a financing company that just happens to produce motorcycles.

    A better idea than this plate would be a bumpersticker that says “Wanna-Be Pirate On Board”.

  • buellracerx

    @rgr @irksome – have you ever been to walmart? if so you’re just as guilty for the hardships H-D has to endure as an American company as anyone else. H-D’s loyalty to its customers can be seen their high quality standards and engineering’s nitpicky attention to detail.

    If you’ve seen & understood the union from the inside, you’d be singing a diff tune…unless you’re one of those benefiting from the fat & waste…in which case you’d be turning a blind eye or marching on the capital right now…

  • RGR

    Nice try Buellboy. I don’t shop at Walmart, and I buy from American companies whenever I can. HD’s bikes are more expensive than they’re worth, so don’t talk to me about “high quality standards”. For those prices, they better have high quality (although I think the bikes are crap and wouldn’t waste my money). Engineering???? I guess we must be talking about a different HD then. They don’t seem to spend much on engineering. They come up with cute paint jobs and option packages though.