SHS Jump-Starts Big Dog’s Consumer Ad Campaign

It’s Big Dog versus the big hog.
Big Dog Motorcycles, started in Wichita, Kan., in 1995, is launching its first consumer advertising as it steps up to the plate against undisputed American-made cycle champ Harley-Davidson.
Print ads from Sullivan Higdon & Sink in Wichita don’t shy away from direct comparisons with the category leader. Copy in two of the three half-page spread ads claims Big Dog’s V-twin engines deliver “30 percent more horsepower than a Harley-Davidson.”
The creative approach, too, is a nod to the Harley mystique. One ad couples a photo of a Bid Dog bike and the headline “Born to haul ass” with a photo on the opposite page of a glaring, bearded Big Dog dealer and the copy “Born to kiss it.” Another features photos of a tattoo and a bike, and compares the “indelible obsession” of both. The ads all are tagged, “A leg up.”
“We’re targeting Harley owners, so we wanted to talk in biker vernacular,” said SHS copywriter Steve Hobson, who created the ads with art director Scott Flemming. “But [Big Dog] has to be something different and better than Harley, so the ads talk about its personalization, service and resale value advantages.
“We’re trying to establish a core legitimacy for the brand, letting bike owners know Big Dog is here for the long haul.”
SHS earlier had done some advertising aimed at recruiting dealers. This first consumer-directed work will break this spring, initially in motorcycle enthusiast magazines. No budget was disclosed.
Big Dog was started three years ago by Sheldon Coleman, a motorcycle enthusiast and former chairman of outdoor products marketer Coleman Co.