2 November 2008


The news of Harley-Davidson Inc. hiring famed Supermodel Marisa Miller as their campaign “spokes model” for the new 2009 V-Rod Muscle, a motorcycle aimed at a younger, hipper demographic than Harley's traditional customer base—I thought, initially, terrific. But when I viewed the photo shoot and campaign "feel" on YouTube, though some pics were trendy and well done, others were not --I’m confused.

Marisa certainly looks stunning, but that's all, that’s it--she doesn’t ride a motorcycle. On top of that the poses are in the suggestive manner we’re tired of seeing in [most] motorcycle magazines-- trophy women atop exciting motorcycles nearly naked. I’m disappointed. Harley-Davidson's astounding efforts for the female rider market and now this? Is the message about women being an American supermodel first, rider second (I know, I know they're really trying to put forth VROD--"SuperModel").

The campaign may not do much to affect today’s female rider--unless Harley,were targeting men only? If so they're missing the boat on the largest growing market segment of motorcycle buyers—women, especially the younger demographic who’ve been educated by the likes of genius brand "Dove" campaigns of loving your body, being real. And the VROD has so much potential for women riders; Harley's’ own grand daughter Kathy Davidson says the VROD is her favourite pick. The VROD MUSCLE is a sporty, sleek bike introduced this year—it looks totally awesome. It has a long, low profile inspired by drag racing and an engine that was co-developed with Porsche, the German sports car maker.

This campaign may have the affect of “buy this bike and you’ll look like Marisa”, yet for the modern informed gal, the educated young lady, this concept might back fire insulting female intellect. As much as I admire and support Harley-Davidson for their strong manufacturing lead of female rider -ship plus the pleasure it is to work with them, I really wasn't expecting this.

Indeed Harley-Davidson, need to encourage a younger female demographic, yet showing a supermodel who has no idea of motorcycling is not fooling anyone (even though she claims she grew up “around” motorcycles—her father rode). We’re all for femininity, sexiness and being “woman”--its not jealousy that’s spawned this entry but the mere fact that the pattern needs to break. There are many sexy, attractive women riders out there that would have completed the story avoiding the portrayal of yet another trophy female posing on a motorcycle--passé.

Plus there were other options—Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff stars of “Battlestar Galactica” both ride motorcycles— American Super-star?


Walter Kern said...

I told Harley-Davidson practically the same thing. You don't attract women riders by showing women draped over a bike who can't even ride. The same thing happened at Sturgis this year in the Miss Sturgis contest. The readers rejected a great rider example, Sasha Mullins, in favor of women who knew little about motorcycling and riding. But, that's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

H-D has done a step backwards. Fortunately there are brands as BMW who take seriously their female customers -and male too! BMW sell loads of bikes without showing pin-ups in their ads.

BAM said...

Your totally dead on with this! The fact that Harley-Davidson even did a whole u-tube feature threw me for a loop!

I love the V-Rod for what it is. NOT how they advertise it. I hope that H-D takes a hard look at thier future marketing endeavors and realizes that the Bike is what made them what they are. Not some airbrushed covergirl!!!

Anonymous said...

Amen Vicki, I wish they would stop the near naked women ads. I own a 2002 VROD have rode motorcycles for years. I know these women do these modeling jobs for the money, but now more than ever women are buying products geared toward men.
btw I am 52 yrs old.