This Souped-Up 3-Wheel Motorcycle Comes Out Cursing in Its First Big Ad

Slingshot dares you. Like, for real

Let’s be perfectly clear about the target demo for this UFO-looking, three-wheeled exotic open-air roadster: If you do currently or have ever ridden a Segway, this vehicle is most definitely not for you.

If, on the other hand, you’re a risk-taking adrenaline junkie with mad money to spend on a powerful toy, Polaris Industries has just the spring splurge for you. It’s called Slingshot, and its aggressive new ad campaign from Team One aims not only to lovingly showcase the product features but also to issue a challenge.

“We dare you to ignore it,” the ad says. “We dare you to categorize it. We dare you to rationalize it,” and, finally, “Drive one at your Slingshot dealer. We f—in’ dare you.”

Unofficial slogan: Not for candy-asses.

In using the bleeped swear word, a first for Team One, the agency takes a page from a few other marketers like Reebok, Newcastle and Fabletics, but doesn’t intend for the F-bomb to be “capricious,” said Craig Crawford, group creative director.

“We’re not doing it just because we can, or just to grab attention,” Crawford said. “We want to push the buttons of a certain type of person. We’re saying, ‘Step up if you have what it takes.’ We think that will motivate trial.”

The original kicker for the ad was less provocative—”We triple dare you,” referring to the Slingshot’s three wheels. But the client was up for something more forceful, “not to be offensive but to put a fine point on it, to be true to what the vehicle is,” said Kevin Reilly, Slingshot’s senior marketing director.

The campaign rolls out with March Madness, and it’s the highest-profile ad placement in Slingshot’s young life (the brand, a sibling of Indian Motorcycles, launched a few years ago). A PG-version of the ad will air during NCAA games on ESPN, the CBS Sports Network and TBS and TNT on Dish. The still-SFW commercial with the lightly disguised F-bomb will get distribution on digital and social channels.

The goal is to reach beyond the initial target of motorcyclists to sports-car enthusiasts, outdoorsy off-roaders, boaters, snowmobilers and all-around adventure seekers. March Madness represents “the sweet spot of the person we’re chasing,” Crawford said, mainly middle-aged men with plenty of eff-you money.

Slingshot, which sells for about $20,000 to $30,000, is considered a motorcycle in half of the U.S., even though owners sit in and not on it, and passengers ride beside not behind the driver. But it’s now classified as an auto-cycle in 26 states (drivers need only a regular driver’s license to operate it), opening up the potential buying pool beyond the traditional biker crowd, Reilly said, even though it’s still obviously not a commuter car.

With the new tagline, “We dare you,” and a 28 percent bump in marketing spend, the brand aims to build its brand awareness.

Team One, which worked on Indian Motorcycles already and added the Slingshot business recently, took an elegant, high-end approach to this first campaign, reminiscent of commercials for another of its luxury clients, Lexus. But there’s an emphasis on showing how “insanely low, absurdly powerful” the Slingshot is, with the spot capturing slow-motion donuts and rubber-burning peel-outs.

“We went with high production value with the intent to show that driving it is all the fun you can imagine,” said Crawford, whose executives coined the phrase “broken DNA, thrill-seeker” as a psychographic description for the target buyer.

In other words, wimps need not apply.

Client: Slingshot
Steve Menneto – President, Polaris Motorcycle Division
Kevin Reilly – Senior Marketing Director
Rachael Elia – Marketing Manager

Production Company: Sibling Rivalry
Joe Wright – Director
Maggie Meade – Executive Producer / Partner
Shelby Ross – Executive Producer
Joanna Fillie – Head of Production
Amanda Clark Altham – Producer

Bryan Cook – Editor
Adolfo Martinelli – Colorist
James Bohn – Flame Artist
Bob Gremore – Sound Engineer

Team One
Chris Graves – Chief Creative Officer
Craig Crawford – Group Creative Director
Scott Ivener – Copywriter
Patrick Dougherty – Art Director
Reilly Park – Producer
Steve Bava – Management Director, Client Services
Landon Nguyen – Account Director
Taylor Toomey – Account Executive
Jen Grant – Management Director, Strategy
Robert Watchmaker – Junior Planner
David Peake – Director of Business Affairs
Karen Thomas- Senior Project Manager