Carmichael Gives Harley a Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

NEW YORK For Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary, Carmichael Lynch wanted to create a television commercial that showed some respect.

“We wanted the spot to be big and cinematic and have an epic feel to it, with a message of permanence,” said Tom Camp, senior writer at the Minneapolis agency.

The 30-second ad, which breaks Tuesday on ESPN’s NCAA basketball broadcast, features a drawbridge operator who, when he sees a Harley motorcycle approaching, lowers the span despite the fact that a boat is attempting to pass underneath. The result: the boat’s mast comes crashing down as the Harley speeds into the sunset.

“100 years of respect” is the tagline.

“When we work with Harley, we try not to show a lot of actors,” Camp said. “We let the bike be the hero.”

The commercial was shot at a bridge near Jacksonville, Fla.

“We did a two-day shoot in one day,” Camp said, due to budgetary restraints. The bridge, chosen after extensive scouting in Florida, was near a military base. While F-14s flying overhead were kept out of shots and off the soundtrack, the bridge proved the most difficult actor on the set.

“The hardest part, believe it or not, was getting the bridge to come up and down evenly,” Camp recalled. Three bridge operators were on call to operate the arms of the bridge.

One boat was used, and a stunt coordinator, Tom Bahr, rigged the boat’s mast with PVC piping on a hinge so the scene could be shot over and over.

C.J. Waldman, of Harvest in Santa Monica, Calif., directed the ad. Barry Markowicz was director of photography. At the agency, Jim Nelson was group creative director, Jason Smith handled art direction and Jennifer David was producer.