Sons of Anarchy

open road

The Road to Freedom

In my previous post I attempted to take Harley-Davidson to task for a TV spot based on the bad-boy biker image. (see below) I asked the question, “Is this the image you have of your customers?” A few days later, I’m starting to wonder if it was the right question.
A business will grow by attracting new customers. To attract those new customers, it will need to appeal to the image those potential new customers desire. The real question any business should be asking is, “What image do our potential customers want to have of themselves?” So the question I should have posed to Harley-Davidson should have been, “Is this the image you think your potential new customers would like to have of themselves?” The answer to that question might be surprising. Whether or not I approve, the answer may very well be yes.
Kurt Sutter produces the FX show “Sons of Anarchy” about a fictional motorcycle gang, living just outside the law. It averaged 3.7 million viewers in the second season. In the crucial demographic of adults ages 18 to 49 it pulled in 2.6 million viewers and more than 4.3 million viewers caught the season 2 finale. According to Nielsen, the finale was the most watched show among men aged 18 to 49 in its time slot.
Watching a TV show about outlaw bikers doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody wants to be an outlaw biker. But it is a strong indicator of a fascination with the idea. Let us hope this is only escapist fantasy. But whatever the motivation, 4.3 million potential buyers is a darn good market for any company to appeal to. I can’t blame Harley-Davidson for aiming its sales effort at an existing niche. Where there is a demand, even for anarchy, somebody will offer supply.
But we as motorcycle enthusiasts and consumers might want to rethink the image we aspire to. What we demand, somebody will supply. And if the world we leave is filled with people modeling themselves after outlaw bikers, we may become the parants of anarchy.

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