Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand, uses social media to target “younger” audience

In a bid to attract a younger audience, Harley-Davidson has embarked on a social media campaign to target millennials.  The aim is to increase their sales of motorcycles as well as increasing their target audience.  Using their brand credibility will social media be enough for Harley-Davidson to reach their objective?

1) The campaign

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Working with 303 MullenLowe and Instagram, Harley-Davidson will be featuring work by three Australian illustrators, using the slogans – “When the ocean calls”, “When the great outdoors calls” and “When hunger calls” – followed by, “where will the road take you?”

The aim is for the illustrations to celebrate and show what the Australian road has to offer.  It’s about building the essence surrounding the brand, rather than focusing on the practicalities of the product.

Harley-Davison’s current target audience is an older generation, sophisticated, to own a Harley has to be deserved, earned.  Their brand position has also remained with this sector.  Even their internal product positioning statement reflects this:  “The only motorcycle manufacturer that makes big, loud motorcycles, for macho guys (and macho wannabes”).

However, with a new strategy now in place maybe a new positioning statement needs to be created?

2) The best of social media

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Using Instagram and Facebook as their primary outlets, the hashtag currently running is #roadofimagination.  Leading to a competition microsite where in 140 words or less visitors have to say where the road could take them.  The winner will then receive a signed canvas of the original artwork.

The decision to focus on the three topics was made after their analysis of their target audience on Instagram, highlighted these three areas to be most popular amongst millennials.

3) Building the brand

Not only using the Harley-Davidson name and brand reputation to help them make their campaign a success, the brand is also extending their brand reach by targeting a new market.


David Turney, Head of advertising, promotions and PR at Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand of the creative for the campaign commented “As a brand, Harley-Davidson stands for authenticity and individuality. We wanted to express this spirit of freedom by using artists with their own unique style to reach communities who might not ordinarily consider riding a Harley.”

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4) The right move?

Right or wrong, it is certainly different.  Especially for Harley-Davidson who has always relied on traditional advertising as a way to promote their products/services.  Social media is a growing phenomenon and one which if a company does right, can reap the rewards.

Yet for traditional brands it can be a hard one to create your brand platform on without some criticism.

Reported in AdNews was that Harley-Davidson had mixed up their messaging with the social media campaign.  Due to the move from the traditional advertising route and also a focus on the younger target audience “the new creative targets a younger audience with the question, Where will the road take you?” immersing them into a fantasy land of hamburgers and Neptune’s Paradise.”

Yes, it may come across as mixed messaging as it doesn’t seem to follow a coherent brand communication strategy.  But overall the use of social media to attract the target audience they would like is necessary.

However, they do need to adjust their messaging slightly to still have some consistent brand messaging in there.  To tie the campaign and their brand strategies together will allow their overall vision to be much stronger and potentially even more successful.

References:  AdNewsMarketing MagInc.
Pictures from: AdNews.com.au, MarketingMag.com.au

Amanda is a copywriter with over 10 years’ experience in the world of marketing and communications. With an effective and no nonsense approach, she can look at any challenge with a creative and can do attitude.

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