Indian snaps at Harley-Davidson in new campaign... and H-D bites back!

Indian launches the 'Challenger Challenge' to drag the Harley-Davidson Road Glide... so H-D bites right back with a bitter response aimed at Polaris

Indian vs Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson has seen off a myriad of different brands over the years but it’s growing rivalry with the Polaris-owned Indian brand has seen the pair draw closer to an all-out waged war as they tussle over an ever-decreasing space in the V-Twin region.

Traditionally Harley-Davidson has ruled the roost in this market, but the US motorcycle industry is changing rapidly around it and now other brands offering sportier or smaller models eating into its market share from every angle.

Indeed, you only have to look at the sales charts to see why Harley-Davidson is becoming increasingly nervy about its prospects, with the company currently in the midst of a transition towards new markets – ADV, streetfighter and electric – as well as its bread-and-butter cruisers and baggers.

However, fighting on all fronts has seemingly spurred Indian – arguably H-D’s most like-for-like rival – to smell the blood and position itself directly at Harley-Davidson with its latest marketing campaign which not only extols the virtues of its new Challenger but pretty much declares war on its competitor by dragging (literally) a Road Glide for comparison.

Breaking something of an unwritten rule in automotive marketing to leave direct comparisons to the impartial media, Indian has launched the Challenger Challenge web series in which they pitch its offering against the Road Glide in some viral-friendly tests.

For now, there are two currently online with a test that shows the two motorcycles tow a Taco truck and then embark on a drag race to see who wins. They insist it’s all scientific and not down to some creative editing but Indian are hardly going to show any scenarios in which its rival wins…

The declaration of war appears to have irked someone in the Harley-Davidson marketing department (or maybe just a big fan) after a narky ad appeared on social media directing aim at Polaris and its image – or lack thereof – before making reference to that towing challenge.

We are particularly fond of the burn ‘Tow challenge accepted – we’ve been carrying your weight for a long time’. ZING!



The Original. #harleydavidson

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According to Asphalt & Rubber, the ad is not officially signed off by Harley-Davidson, though this is often the excuse given by manufacturers who want to play a little dumb by allowing a creative agency some artistic licence to get a point across without accepting full responsibility.

Either way, more than ever there is beef between two meaty brands. And we’re all for it.