Harley-Davidson: Crowdsourced to Be Wild


Harley-Davidson’s new campaign invites you to custom-design the motorcycle of your dreams. Appealing to “Cage Free Humans,” it’s appealing to those hidden fantasies and secret dreams to hit the open road. It’s also appealing to fans, as the campaign idea came from one: Whit Hiler of Kentucky, to be precise.[more]

As Ad Age notes, “No Cages” is an innovative program that lets buyers customize a Harley-Davidson 1200 to their exact specifications.

Using the new online H-D1 Bike Builder, you can be reborn to be wild in four weeks. Factory-install options include wheels, seats, handlebars, foot-peg positions, paint and graphics, engine finishes and security. 

This new campaign is the direct result of HD’s partnership with Boulder, Colo.-based crowdsourcing shop Victor & Spoils.

“It started with an insider motorcycle idea and they did a great job of finding a bigger idea. …We think it validates our new creativity model, which is centered on sourcing ideas from customers or consumers,” the brand’s CMO Mark-Hans Richer told Ad Age

“Cages” is a concept that comes out of the motorcycle lifestyle … typically it meant no cars. But the crowd and Victors & Spoils took “cages” and made it more about liberation from your boring life. We liked that expansion of the idea.” 

Richer says HD has “stricken the AOR [agency of record] phrase from our language. We work with lots of people, whether they’re at agencies or otherwise and have moved past the idea that there’s a lead agency.” 

The “No Cages” campaign started with a tweet from V&S CEO John Winsor. 

For the king of motorcycles, crowdsourcing is “an everyday philosophy we’ve had for a long time — we are radically customer-led.”

This AdAge.com comment from tommycottam in Milwaukee highlights a larger demographic issue:

“When our parents (hell, even our grandparents) wanted to rebel it was time to hop on a Harley. Now there are snowmobiles, waverunners, jetskis, scooters, speed boats, ATVs, mobile homes, second homes, various trikes, etc. Really need to fight and do something different to win those rec dollars. Gen X and Gey Y won’t buy a Harley by default. Whats the offer? Hows this relevant to me? Why would I want to sit in a H-D dealer lot on a Saturday morning before a breakfast ride with a bunch of 55 year olds?” 

It’s a risky ride for the iconic boss ‘hog’ of bikes to hang its helmet on a crowdsourced idea from a “passionate amateur” in a day and age when the bikes themselves may be victim of a time warp.