an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Harley-Davidson: Playing Both Sides

Posted by Rosepixie on February 9, 2010

These are two recent print ads from Harley-Davidson.  Both were found in magazines published within just weeks of each other.

The text of this one reads:

Join us in saluting those who defend freedom.

We’re celebrating those who keep us riding free and this November we need you to take part in it.  Visit our website and dealers to post your message of thanks and to find out how to get free military-themed downloads, posters and postcards featuring fellow rider and U.S. military supporter, Marisa Miller.  And if you’re serving or a vet, read our messages and enter our contest.  From all those who ride and enjoy the freedom you protect, we salute you.

This one reads:

It’s a free country, but have you felt like that lately?

Has the torch of liberty gotten a little dimmer?  Do we still live in the home of the brave?  As long as there are people willing to ask the questions, we’ll do our part to make sure a Harley-Davidson is the answer.  Others may pull back in times like these, we’re launching 34 new ways to show the world what living free means, starting at $6.999.  Haven’t been liberated yet by the experience of riding?  Learn to ride in just a few days at an H-D dealer.  Screw it.  Let’s Ride.

Freedom ain’t quiet.  Raise your voice.

I found this a really interesting pair of ads.  While they aren’t completely opposing, they do sort of present opposite ideas.  The first one presents the idea that while we are free, we need to protect it and celebrate those who are doing so on the battlefield.  The second one presents the idea that while we are supposed to be free, it increasingly doesn’t feel like it, so we should be slightly rebellious and exercise not only the freedoms we have, but the freedoms we should have.  As I said, these aren’t completely incompatible ideas, but they are sort of representative of two rather opposing viewpoints in the national discourse.

I think that they are both very well done ads (although I’m not terribly fond of the pin-up girl thing).  Both manage to not only clearly articulate their ideas, but also convey the feeling of it in every element of the images and graphic designs, from the typefaces chosen to the layouts and color palettes used.  They are both striking ads and do a great job of being completely what they seem to want to be.  I just found the vast difference between them interesting.  What do you think?

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