Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harley Davidson's NO CAGES Ad Campaign for Dummies

Harley Davidson has released an advertising campaign with the slogan "No Cages".

The problem is, that "cages" had a meaning to true motorcyclists and bikers alike, and the ad does not use that meaning. Here it is from the motorcycle dictionary:

"Cage - A car, truck, or van. The sworn enemy of motorcyclists, more commonly known as automobiles. The name stems from being all cooped up inside a closed shell, with no contact with the outside air."

"Cager - A person driving a car, truck, or van. Cage operator, or driver."

A motorcycle is not a "cage", also neither is a bicycle, or a person walking or jogging for that matter.

In this ad, the word "Cage" has been usurped to mean any restriction on your freedom of consumer choice. And while the ad does put a "cage" around car drivers, it also places a cage around people who are simply walking or jogging.

Any true motorcyclist would understand quickly the original meaning of the biker term "cage", and so would take this ad to be a blunder by an ad agency that does not really understand motorcycling. It often happens, with ad agencies that are filled with people who do not ride motorcycles, instead riding cars, SUV's and pickup trucks. So it would be a natural mistake.

The slogan "No Cages" could be insulting to many people I see parking their four wheeled vehicles at the Harley dealer. Also, to Harley owners who regularly use their pickup trucks to carry their Harley Davidsons. Because obviously, they are using cages, and the slogan clearly says "NO cages" as if to discriminate against them.

Harley Davidson is actually already linked to "cages", as they have a marketing relationship with Ford Motor Company to produce a "Harley Davidson" (TM) branded version of their F150 pickup truck. I don't know if this campaign will make Ford happy with the relationship.

Maybe the No Cages campaign was to neutralize the word "cage" before Harley Davidson's truck loving ways backfire on their hardcore image. So while I often see "Harley Davidson" stickers on the pickup trucks of wannabe Harley owners (or actual owners), please let's not have any "No Cages" bumper stickers on these same trucks.


  1. I'd submit that the folks at the advertising agencies are generally pretty cagey (ca·gey (kj)
    adj. Crafty; shrewd: a cagey lawyer) and were aware of the connotation.

    On the hand, advertising agencies have, over the years, made some colossal blunders.

  2. I think advertising companies should be conscious of the term they use for a campaign. and the question there is why Harley allowed this new advertisement if it does not coincide with their goal? They can deceive a lot of people especially those who are just about to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

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    Public relations agency Iran