We’re seriously impressed with this latest ad campaign from Harley. While not quite banishing memories of the xenophobic, culture war-inspired “Screw It,” “Military Appreciation” does a 180, focussing on presenting a positive message about America and its ideals. The whole Harley thing basically began during and after WWII, with soldiers buying surplus bikes and air crews searching for the freedom they no longer got from flying. You can still clearly see that influence in the graphics used on club patches and similar tchotchkes. Something about that period’s look just evokes “motorcycle” in an immediate and powerful way.
Our only criticism would be the somewhat inappropriate, Christian
Audigier-influenced graphics in the upper left corner of most of these
ads. Likely explained by the guy with the awful hair and bad clothes in
this video, Harley would have been much better served if they’d stuck
to a literal adaptation of the influence and steered completely clear
of Los Angeles.
While the overt objectification of women usually doesn’t work in ads
(viewers remember the boobs, not the bike), the scantily clad Marissa
Miller actually fits perfectly here, representing the nose cone art and
pinup girls that were so influential to motorcycle culture post war.
We’re surprised to see any motorcycle company demonstrating this level
of cultural awareness, style and savviness, but positively amazed that
the company in question happens to be Harley. Now, if they could just
offer the kind of simple, high substance motorcycles that they did
during the war (something like the Ural ST), Harley could suddenly find
itself able to sell bikes to young people.