One of the motorcycle Websites I frequent recently posted a link to what was billed as a “Classic Funny Harley Commercial.”
Classic? It certainly recalls the tired old stereotype of motorcycle riders. We see a couple in bed as a rider rolls up on his Harley. As the biker enters the house, the man in bed with the woman hides in the closet. The commercial ends with the “humorous” disclosure that the guy hiding in the closet is actually her husband. One supposes he is too intimidated by the biker to stand up for his marriage. As the woman married the other guy and warns him of the biker’s approach, it is reasonable to assume that her participation in the “affair” is coerced. That changes the dynamic from affair to rape.
As far as I can tell, this commercial was produced in South Africa and may have only aired there. I called the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. in Milwaukee to see if this was a legitimate Harley-Davidson commercial. I spoke with a lady who was unable to verify that it was produced by Harley-Davidson but said that as it used the Harley-Davidson logo, it was probably sanctioned by Harley. She said many Harley commercials are produced by dealerships that have permission to use the logo.
Really, guys? That’s the image you have of your customers? That’s the element you want to appeal to? The ad ends with the Harley Davidson logo on a black field with the word “Respect” under it. Respect is not the word that comes to mind when I view this commercial. Nor does it create in me a great desire to run out and buy a Harley.
If Respect is what a motorcycle company would like to have associated with its brand, then let me recommend another way. Imagine an intimidating leather clad-biker showing up and changing the environment with his physical presence, but in a positive manner. Instead of a rapist for your image, maybe use a B.A.C.A. rider.
Now that’s something I’d respect.
— Guy Wheatley