Adages: Old Man Harley Gets Ribbed by Those Upstart Germans

By Published on .

As Harley-Davidson celebrates reaching the ripe old age of 100, it's having to take some guff from at least one brash whippersnapper in the motorcycle biz. In a move that might be the business equivalent of standing in Old Man Smithers' front yard and yelling insults, BMW Motorcycles has put up a billboard in Harley's hometown of Milwaukee, where hundreds of Harley riders are scheduled to show up for centennial celebration later this week.

"We'd say congratulations on your 100th. But you wouldn't hear us," the billboard reads.

The board, from Merkley Newman Harty, New York, is of course poking fun at the hogs' distinctive loud engines.

"Who says BMW doesn't have a sense of humor?" says Roy Oliemuller, a BMW spokesman. After all, BMW Motorcycles might be younger, but they're not exactly spring chickens: they celebrate their 80th this year.

No comment from Harley by deadline, but so far, no one's told BMW to get off the darn lawn.

The wrong tree

Ah, men, such a tricky demographic to reach with their whimsical ways, enigmatic thought processes and complex desires. Targeting men effectively needs millions of dollars, an econometric modeling system and a team of cultural anthropologists knee-deep in doctorates ... or just tell `em they might get lucky.

Witness the success of one recent classified ad from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It read: "Single black female seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good-looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, hunting, camping, fishing and cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me...Call 404-875-6420 and ask for Daisy."

In just a week after it appeared, more than 15,000 men found themselves on the phone to the Atlanta Humane Society discussing an 8-week-old black Labrador retriever.

Maybe Miller Lite should have gone with Daisy instead of the Catfight girls.

Free, unsolicited advice: Hats off

Urgent memo to the agency creative undoubtedly considering such a move at this very moment: Please step away from the trucker hat.

Yes, we know. These `70s-era monstrosities with the foam fronts and mesh backs may seem all the rage. And your marketing masters would no doubt think it a stroke of genius to slap some hats on the talent. Ashton Kutcher wears one. Justin Timberlake wears one. And no fewer than 1,750 sensitive-yet-ironic rocker-boy clones sport them on MTV.

If you're looking to tap into the teen set with a couple of bucks to throw your way, fine, go ahead. But if you're looking to tap into that elusive early-adopter, Gen X hipster with expendable income, you're too late.

Elizabeth Spiers, editor of online gossip site Gawker and a freelancer who's written for Page Six and Radar, has written a "Eulogy for the Trucker Hat" in U.K. pop-culture magazine The Face. "By mid-May, the trucker hat had become so ubiquitous that The New York Times ran a Style section story declaring the trucker-hat phenomenon `over.' That its Style section ... was even aware of its existence indicated that it had probably been `over' six months earlier."

Spiers tells Adages, "Any company who ends up with a commercial that includes trucker hats needs to call their ad agency and demand their money back-unless, of course, the trucker hats are used to indicate that the wearers are indeed truckers."

Adages has yet to receive any free trucker hats with an agency or marketer name emblazoned across the foamy front. But you've all been warned.

Contributing: Jonah Bloom, Jean Halliday

Rudely interrupt Richard Linnett's vacation: [email protected]

Most Popular
In this article: