Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The NEW Harley Davidson campaign

Carmichael Lynch lost Harley Davidson in an agency review, where they decided not to participate. Here is a brand that had been with Carmichael Lynch basically forever. You could probably go so far as to say that Carmichael Lynch literally created the brand. I think they were together something like over thirty years. That is a long marriage these days.

Yesterday the new ad campaign was launched from an upstart agency called Victors and Spoils. This agency works on the premise that everything they do is "Consumer Created" work. And the ideas are actually sourced from regular folks out there who think they know all about advertising and that just about anybody and their monkey can do ads.

The particular TV spot that we have all seen is the brainchild of a fellow Harley owner from Kentucky named Whit Hiler. It is based on the biker moniker that anyone who doesn't ride a motorcycle is in a "cage" meaning a car. Victors and Spoils tries to extend this to all people who do not ride Harleys live in a cage. The spot shows people in all walks of life performing their daily tasks...right you got a cage. And of course, the only person not in a cage is a guy on his Harley who passes another guy in a car/cage and goes cycling on down the street.

In the meantime, the voiceover and ending shows a bike being customized, which has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on with people in cages.

First of all, I am prejudiced. I LOVE Carmichael Lynch and every bit of work they do. I would give them my right, no, left arm to work there. I would work there as a janitor, just so I could empty their wastebaskets and see the ad ideas that they threw away. I am not kidding.

So when I see this drivel that was born from a gimmick driven agency model of "consumer consensus" ideas being the face of the ad game future, it makes me gag. This TV spot is worse than any first year advertising's students attempt at creative. It is an embarrassment and compete slap in the face to all creative agencies, most of all, Carmichael Lynch.

Harley Davidson deserves to fail. And it will if it continues on with this "agency".

Sadly, it is THIS kind of new communal ad model and variations thereof that are beginning to pepper the industry. And sadly, this kind of new communal ad model is beginning to sink those of us who have spent years and years working and honing our craft and talent; sinking the real ad agencies whose creative people are trained to know the brand as well or better than the client. Agencies made up of a group of creatives who have lived, eaten and slept with a client's brand for years. Agencies whose creative people arm themselves with the kind of knowledge that becomes strategically highly intuitive. Long term agency relationships with the brand and client forges advertising that is not only brilliant and expansive but most importantly, over time, iconic. And sometimes, like the years and years of work Carmichael Lynch did building that brand for Harley Davidson, the advertising can also become Art.