Longer Rides Are Better in Harley-Davidson’s Ads

Documentary outperforms latest brand spot

While most brands are focusing on shorter and shorter ads, Harley Davidson, ever the rebel, has been slapping up long, documentary-style videos with slow-talkin' men and slow soulful pickin'. Though it's only on their YouTube channel, the 4:17 video below—about the Harley-Davidson styling team of Willie G. Davidson and Casey Ketterhagan—has many more views than the brand's latest 60-second "No Cages" spot. Both were posted a couple of weeks ago. The new :60, from Victors & Spoils, continues the theme of the "No Cages" crowdsourced ad we wrote about back in February. Called "Liberation," it has the same slow guitar as the longer video, but it transitions to hard rock when the rider liberates a bunch of doggies from a well-meaning pet store. Ha ha, small child poking your fingers through the cages. You'll never adopt that dog now! It's been liberated by a man with 6 percent more power in his Twin Cam 96 engine! Of course, it's no shock that Harley fans might prefer the documentary-style ad to the slick, commercial feel of the "Liberation" spot. Now, how to fit that into a :60?

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.