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Harley-Davidson Takes Over an Entire Town in Huge Marketing Stunt

Harley-Davidson Takes Over an Entire Town in Huge Marketing Stunt

Harley-Davidson really knows how to make a splash in order to market its brand.

The company is taking over an entire town in North Dakota and ensuring that all eligible residents get their motorcycle driver’s license.

The town is Ryder, North Dakota, and city officials have agreed to change its name to “Riders.” The town only has 80 residents and 50 of them showed up to learn how to ride a motorcycle. The town’s name change will last throughout the 2017 motorcycle season (which may be cut short due to the early arrival of cold weather in the northern state).

On top of that, the Harley-Davidson logo has been painted on the city’s water tower which has also been repainted to look like the tower atop Harley-Davidson’s headquarters. Bikers are already making Riders a destination, stopping in the town to take pictures of the revamped water tower.

The marketing roll-out is an attempt to reverse recent setbacks. According to Inc, the company’s first quarter sales dropped this year “in every market across all merchandise types.”

Since Ryder (now Riders) is such a small town, the success of Harley-Davidson’s campaign likely depends on positive social media (and traditional media) coverage. The motor-bike-making company is depending on the town’s residents and biker enthusiasts for a good return on their investment.

But Harley-Davidson’s customers are famously loyal. With their marketing smarts, the company is likely to keep attracting “macho guys (and ‘macho wannabes’) mostly in the United States who want to join a gang of cowboys in an era of decreasing personal freedom” (according to the company’s positioning statement).

Daniel White for


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