Harley turns 105, and it shows.

13 08 2008

Harley-Davidson will turn 105 years old, and they’ll mark their anniversary with a blow-out bash in Milwaukee, Wisconsin starting August 28. 4 days of street thunder, wreckless abandon, debauchery and leather-clad 45 to 65 year old men (and their secretaries). The Foo Fighters will take a stage and perform, likely drawing a few people under the age of 40, but the band will rock hard enough to make the 60 year old forget about how they’d have rather paid to hear Ted Nugent.

It’s being reported (by AgencySpy) that H-D is looking for help outside C-L, who’ve largely been responsible for H-D’s success to this point. But, with failing sales numbers to younger riders, lack of product depth and an old-man image, H-D continues to struggle in growing their marketability to a broader range of potential buyers. H-D has reportedly, over the past decade, alloted a relatively small budget to youth marketing efforts. The product and communications managers inside H-D struggle with a chicken-or-egg scenario, where a question is whether potential young buyers should be heavily marketed to and then taught to ride, or if potential buyers are already learning to ride motorcycles.

Thus Rider’s Edge, the H-D riding academy, is teetering on the edge of lameness. H-D is and always has been about attitude, freedom and adventure. Rider’s Edge is about safety, control and other “real” lessons of moto riding. BMW has great adventure motos and the promise is paid off through great ads.

So, for H-D and it’s 105 years of attitude-driven, freedom-seeking… don’t let the anniversary party get re-colored “lame” by the oldies on turquoise elektra glides, their quest for T&A and thirst for cheesy t-shirts and embroidered denim.

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