Venerable Brand Returns to the Road With $24,000 'Chief' Model
CHICAGO--Indian, the latest entry in the "Made in the U.S.A." motorcycle category, will get ad backing this winter from Core.
The St. Louis agency, which has gained a reputation for eye-catching print work and a new-business approach marked by blunt letters and cold calls, went after the company's account without an invitation.
"They had started a review; we pre-empted the thing," said Core partner J.C. Dillon. Dillon said he showed up unannounced at the company's headquarters in Gilroy, Calif., to offer his shop's services.
Indian claims to be the first motorcycle company born in the U.S., beginning production in 1901. The company shut down 52 years later, and various uses of the name and skirmishes over the trademark have ensued since then. The current incarnation is producing a 1999 Limited Edition Indian Chief heavyweight cruiser that sells for $24,000, Dillon said.
The success of American-made Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the growth of discretionary income among those with a taste for powerful two-wheelers have spawned several competitors. Last year Norton Motors International enlisted Colle & McVoy in Minneapolis in preparation for an assault on the U.S. The Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Co., another early U.S. motorcycle maker, two years ago assigned its advertising to Foley Sackett, also in Minneapolis.
Indian, though, lays claim to being the "first great American brand," Dillon said. Its Indian head trademark remains a staple of garage walls even though the brand has largely been out of production for the better part of five decades.
A print campaign from Core is expected early in 2000. While making use of Indian's history, it will not position the motorcycle as an artifact, Dillon said.
"We want to take the heritage and make it relevant; we can't be totally retro," he said.
Mike Maffei, Indian's vice president of marketing, could not be reached for comment.