Harley Davidson

"Make this the year" Campaign

Communication Corner Campaign


  Harley Davidson is one of the biggest and most well known brands in the world. Everyone saw one of their bikes at least once, either in the streets or roads with the H-D club member driving in a big group, in games, movies, at the H-D museum or at one of the events that either H-D sponsored or made by itself. But most important, H-D is not about motor bicycles; is about a lifestyle.

The Harley Davidson “Make this the year” campaign is all about this lifestyle and sending a provocative message – to join the evidently - to all that those who did not adhered to that style yet.

Harley Davidson is worldwide known for two main reasons, both unique: the motorcycle itself and their drivers. Everyone has seen, at least once, a member of the Harley Davidson club and the company makes sure to keep this loyal brand community unique as it is and tries, if possible, to bring more people into the club – with great success. Thus, the brand is more than a motorcycle and is more than leather jacket drivers; is about a lifestyle and how can a person share this lifestyle with others.

  Fitting in is a great important factor to be analysed and was, indeed, discussed in class in the beginning of the course due to the fact that the human being is social by nature. Either through friends, family, sports, cultural or politically speaking, man has always been looking for people that share the same values as him. Sometimes, however, even when the person does not agree with what’s been happening is very likely that the person will not face everyone by itself; instead, will conform to the situation in order not to be excluded from the group.

In the middle of 1950, Solomon Asch realised a research towards conformity in which he would execute many experiments that would prove the tendency of humans in following other’s opinion. He put 9 people (in which 8 were actors) inside a room and realised a vision test.  

You can see one sample at the address as follows:


Each one should choose - between A, B and C – which one has the exact same length as the line on the left. In the beginning the actors would give the right answer, but after the 5th test they started to provide the wrong answer. The results were:

·  50% gave the same answer, following the group, even if they knew they were wrong;

·  Only 25% didn’t give the wrong answer;

·  In total, the conformity rate was 33%.

After the experiment Solomon interviewed them and discovered that those who gave the wrong answer did it because they were afraid or felt anxiety; felt that they were wrong and the group correct; didn’t want to be “the different”. Therefore, one of the Harley Davidson’s tasks is to find those who share the same characteristics as H-D club members and convince them to “fit in”. Thus, target market, in this campaign, is everyone who does not have a H-D motorcycle neither is a member at the H-D club.

The campaign obviously appeals to the emotional side of the audience. The mix of phrases such as “conquer a dream”, “not stopping till the road ends”, “going where the wind takes me” and “not making excuses” with the images of huge empty spaces – suggesting that one could ride freely – and the characteristically outfit of H-D drivers appeals to the wild, adventurous, sensual, the “free spirit” inside us all that wants and desires to be released from the ordinary life one’s been living so far.

And if someone may feel a little embarrassed about being wildly alone, the campaign makes sure to put the drivers driving in a group – the H-D community, which basically means “You are not alone; you won’t be alone”.

Thus, it’s possible to assume that what Harley Davidson aims at in the hierarchy of effect is “awareness” – for those who have never seen it before – that people should stop making excuses that prevent them from fighting for their dreams and begin a new life in which one can experience freedom and be lead by the wind. And also, to stimulate interest in those who know the brand, but never thought about purchasing it or getting involved with H-D lifestyle.

In terms of purchase decision-making process, the “need recognition” is the focus of the campaign. And the need is to adhere that lifestyle.

Even though the emotional appealing is really emphasized in the campaign which almost gives the impression that that is an amazing way to live your life, it’s hard to believe that an advertisement alone can achieve “conviction”, in the hierarchy of effects. That’s when the otter tools and strategies from H-D come in.

As far as other types of marketing H-D has been working in a lot of fields. To begin with they have clubs in several countries across the world which provides them a sort of “mouth-to-mouth” marketing strategy. They also have a museum, in which its possible to see, for instance, all the motorcycles ever created by the company.

Even more, on their website is possible to see the “calendar of events” which encompasses: races, biking week, shows, concerts, anniversary festivals and those events can happen in several countries around the world.

The company also works with entertainment and gaming advertising. It’s possible to see the bike in movies such as: Capitan America – The first avenger, Wild riders, Ghost rider, Indiana Jones and Terminator, for instance. GTA – Vice City and Road Trip are two examples of H-D bikes in games.

They also use the sponsor strategy in order to expand the name of the brand through the world. Recently they renewed their sponsorship with UFC, which is one of greatest events in sport whose audience has been growing for the past few years.

All of these events can provide significant impact on the target audience towards the other topics in both “hierarchy of effects” and “purchase decision-making process” and gives H-D the opportunity to expand and consolidate even more this strong brand.

You can see the campaign in the link below.


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