Miller Brewing Co. last week kicked off the first of several promotions it plans surrounding the event, offering customized beer cans and a sweepstakes to win two matching Harley Fat Boy motorcycles. Encore Strategic Marketing, Toronto, handles.
AT&T Corp., Chrysler Corp.'s Dodge Division, IBM Corp. and several other marketers soon will unveil additional sponsorships and promotions well in advance of the event, which is expected to draw more than 80,000 people to Harley's hometown of Milwaukee on June 13.
'EAGER TO GET INVOLVED'
"Sponsors were so eager to get involved that we decided to let them into the event for the first time in a variety of unusual ways, integrating them right into the experience," said Steve Piehl, Harley director of communications.
Geared to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the event also has become a major marketing opportunity for Harley and the sponsors, which paid varying fees to be part of the motorcycle fest.
AT&T is offering a commemorative prepaid calling card. Midwest Express Airlines is using the event as the basis for a promotion and sweepstakes. Dodge will be the official truck and sponsor of rides from around the U.S., ending in Milwaukee.
The first reunion for the 85th anniversary in 1988 drew 30,000. In 1993, the 90th reunion drove sales of 67,000 tickets. Already, the 95th anniversary has sold more than 60,000 tickets, at $35 each, and thousands more are expected to attend a free Harley festival held for the first time for Milwaukee residents. In addition, locals are planning block parties for visiting Harley fans.
Also new this year: online registration for the event and online coverage of