If you were to check Harley-Davidson’s investors from the past three months, you would find a rather noticeable increase in stock since the season 6 premiere of Sons of Anarchy in September.
I know what you’re thinking: a motorcycle company advertising on a show that’s about a motorcycle gang makes sense. But when according to their website, HarleyDavidson.com, a part of their corporate mission is “personal responsibility and stewardship for quality in everything we do,” it’s got to make you wonder, where do their morals lie.
Since its season 6 premiere, a Harley-Davidson commercial has appeared on every episode. With each episode containing the follow explicit content:
- Violence that included multiple individuals being shot point blank in the head, cut up dismembered bodies, and multiple stabbings
- Simulated rape scenes
- Injections of heroin
- Racial slurs towards minorities
Does Harley-Davidson really want to associate its all-American brand with this?
Instead of taking a more responsible route to advertising, Harley-Davison has chosen to join forces with Sons of Anarchy. Not only are their customized bikes represented on the show, but they are selling toy sized Sons of Anarchy bikes on their website. They’re not only aware of the content they’re sponsoring through support of their advertising dollars, but are promoting the show with a full line of toys like this.
On Harley-Davidson’s website this toy is under the category “Gifts for Kids,” for only $14.95.
But I can’t help but wonder just how long this affiliation with Sons of Anarchy will work in their favor?
For many years GoDaddy, a web hosting company, was associated with not-so-subtle sexualized commercial ads. Well when marketers and consumers started to debate whether these commercials were going too far, GoDaddy, decided to change up its image. GoDaddy is now more focused on helping small-business owners, stating “there is another way to advertise that doesn’t have to push customers away,” where a company can still be “edgy, still fun, still entertaining, still irreverent,” but “talking in a more grown-up way.” Well if GoDaddy can change for the better, I’m sure the prestigious company of Harley Davidson can, and should, do the same.
Here’s hoping, sooner than later, Harley-Davidson will follow the footsteps of GoDaddy, and realize, when you have a reputable product, gimmicks become redundant. We know from research conducted by major retailers that an 18% improvement is shown in performance of an ad when in the context of positive versus negative programs. The research found that advertisers can find an increase in revenue by simply placing their commercial in more family-friendly programming.
Sit on that idea Harley-Davidson.
To contact Harley-Davidson about this issue, click here.
Quality Mission. Harley-Davidson.com. Retrieved October 10, 2013 from http://www.Harley-Davidson.com
“Sons of Anarchy ‘Opie’ Mini Bike Toy.” Photo. n.d. Motor Harley-Davidson Cycles 10 Oct. 2013 <shopsandiegoharley.com.>
Elliott, Stuart. “Go Daddy Steps Away From the Jiggle” NYTimes.com September 4 2013. Web October 10