Carmichael Lynch Ties Harley’s Past to New V-Rod

Carmichael Lynch’s first task in advertising Harley-Davidson’s new V-Rod motorcycle will be to convince the brand’s hard-core enthusiasts that they have not been left behind.

The new bike, which has more power than the company’s traditional bikes and a water-cooled engine, is the Milwaukee client’s first new line in 10 years.

“There’s a lot of people who have strong opinions about [those differences],” said Jim Nelson, group creative director at the Minneapolis agency. “Even though it’s different, there’s a lot of things that make it a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”

Print ads that break in September enthusiast magazines highlight the V-Rod’s styling and try to link the motorcycle to Harley’s heritage. One execution uses the headline, “99 years of wind can change the face of rock, but it’s still rock,” with a photo of the motorcycle in front of eroded desert sandstone.

The new model is intended to broaden the customer base and attract younger riders, but “Harley doesn’t see the V-Rod as so far from where they are,” said CL group account director Craig Rowley.

To further emphasize the V-Rod’s connection to the core brand, the campaign maintains Harley’s long-time tag, “The legend rolls on.”

“Even though Harley is changing, they always come from the bedrock of what Harley-Davidson is all about,” Nelson said.

The print campaign, which will include an eight-page insert and fold-out poster, will break in September motorcycle publications such as American Iron and Cycle World. The campaign is expected to expand to more mainstream publications like Playboy and Rolling Stone in 2002.

Billings could not be determined, but Nelson said Harley would put a “significant” amount behind the V-Rod launch. Harley spends $7 million annually on advertising, per CMR.