That's why Harley is revving up its first national TV campaign in at least 10 years, a near-$1 million effort starting today and running for two weeks on ESPN, Comedy Central and Nick at Night. Combined with a direct mailing effort by dealers, the campaign is aimed at pumping up holiday sales of Harley branded items.
Waiting lists to buy a new Harley motorcycle typically range from three months to a year or longer, depending on the model. "The lack of motorcycles on the floor has meant a decrease in store traffic," said Joanne Bischmann, director-marketing for the Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker.
The new 30-second spot from Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, shows a biker who can't get through an airport metal detector because of Harley accessories such as his belt, boots, shirt, key chain, beer stein and saddlebags. Down to his Harley boxer shorts, he still sets off the alarm because of a metal tooth. "For all things Harley-Davidson, see a Harley-Davidson genuine dealer," says the voice-over.
Instead of national TV advertising, Harley has typically provided creative and co-op funds to its 600 dealers to run spot TV. But dealers have asked for additional national support to position them as "viable retail outlets," Ms. Bischmann said.
Harley blamed a falloff in parts and accessories sales for flat earnings in the third quarter. Net income was $23.7 million, down 0.4% from the same period in 1994, even though sales in the company's motorcycle segment rose 12% to $327.1 million. Third-quarter parts and accessories sales slipped 3.2% to $75.9 million.
"Sales of our MotorClothes line of riding and fashion apparel were down nearly 19% from last year," President-CEO Richard Teerlink said in a statement. "We took our eyes off the ball with MotorClothes and didn't do as good a job as we've done over the last several years of monitoring our dealers' needs and floor traffic."