Indian Motorcycle go in for the kill on Harley-Davidson

After last month's ‘Challenger Challenge’, Indian further go in on Harley-Davidson with an ambitious and expensive marketing spree

Indian Scout Bobber Sixty

IT’S no secret that the last couple of years have been testing times for 115-year-old Harley-Davidson. Their sales have been in slow decline, they seem to struggle in attracting the younger audience and their first crack at an electric motorcycle was a sales flop.

And that’s nothing to do with the LiveWire being a bad motorcycle. Quite the opposite in fact, we rode it and it’s bloody brilliant as a machine. But with a price which is just a few thousand less than that of a Tesla Model 3 – which has 250-miles of range – the LiveWire looks expensive and impractical by comparison.

It’s not just the bikes that have been struggling in recent years, H-D’s CEO and employee of the company since 1994 Matt Levatich stepped down from the role, vacating his seat on the board of directors.

With what was historically one of the biggest brands on the planet now seemingly in a vulnerable position, it’s not surprising that Harley’s competitors are beginning to circle like sharks smelling blood in the sea.

The biggest and most plausible threat to the brand comes from Indian Motorcycle, a brand with heaps of history but which doesn’t pull at the heartstrings quite like a Harley-Davidson does.

After last month announcing the Challenger Challenge, where they released videos of the Indian Challenger and the Harley-Davidson Road Glide going toe-to-toe in some viral tests, Indian are now going all out to get a more substantial hold over the US motorcycle market.

The new campaign will see Indian spend reported mid-seven figures (between $5 and $7m) on advertising campaigns on some of the biggest sporting events in the US. The adverts are reported to be running on NBA and NHL primetime games among others, and it’s aimed at creating a Coca Cola vs Pepsi style marketing war between the two brands.

If anything, the only potential fly in the ointment of Indian’s ambitious and expensive campaign is the untimely entrance via stage right of a certain COVID-19 mic-dropping it’s way onto the stage. NBA games and NHL games being played out behind closed doors might be a bonus for the brand, the extra TV audience may pay dividends. But if the games don’t go ahead altogether – it could be an absolute bust for Indian.