1903: A Harley-Davidson Café
Zulu Alpha Kilo
SilverBest Experiential Engagement
Harley-Davidson is the leading motorcycle brand in Canada, but its core rider base is aging. While younger riders know and respect Harley, they don’t see it as a brand for them. When they think of Harley, they think of old men cruising through the countryside on big, clunky motorcycles.
To shift perceptions, we had to get young urbanites onto one of our new, agile bikes. But we knew from research that the dealership experience is intimidating to Millennials. Plus, dealerships are all in the suburbs – tough places to get to for young urbanites that don’t own cars.
Rather than bringing young riders to Harley, we needed to bring Harley to them – and make the brand more approachable. We created an immersive experience that would encourage trial of our urban bikes and get Millennials talking. Our goal: 8 million earned media impressions and to help reverse two consecutive years of sales declines.
Millennials have grown up in the age of fast and disposable, resulting in a craving for heritage and craft. We wanted to showcase the substance of the Harley-Davidson brand – dating all the way back to its founding by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson in 1903.
Knowing millennials rarely talk about what a brand says but rather what it does, we couldn’t shout our history in ads; we needed to allow them to experience it. And so the first ever ‘1903 – A Harley-Davidson® Café’ was born.
The Café opened for the riding season in the millennial heartland of Toronto - the Ossington strip. Part media vehicle, part retail footprint and part experiential, it was something no motorcycle brand had done before.
Strict attention was paid to ensuring every inch of the Café expressed the brand’s values of authenticity, craftsmanship and community. The interior was painstakingly crafted to feel like you were stepping into Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson museum. Signage and artwork used vintage photos unearthed from Harley’s archives and historical versions of the iconic logo – ensuring plenty of selfie-worthy backdrops. Posters promoting the Café were screen-printed by hand using ink made from actual coffee.
Coffee varietals were named after flagship bikes and urban models were displayed alongside classics. While enjoying a macchiato, consumers could head to the back of the Café and test a bike on a stationary platform or attend a wrenching workshop in our functioning Garage.
The 1903 Café was truly a café-meets-dealership-meets-brand-experience. It garnered over 50 million national impressions, surpassing our goal by over 520%. With 27.2 million earned impressions, we surpassed that goal by 240%. We saw a massive shift in our social following – under-35 reach increased by 429%, now representing 53% of fans.
On top of that, after two years of declining sales, Harley saw an increase of 5.5%.
Finally, the Café is being held up globally by Harley as an innovative and effective way to engage a new generation of riders. In turn, plans are underway to bring the concept to other markets.
Chief Creative Officer: Zak Mroueh
Executive Creative Director: Allen Oke
Associate Creative Directors: Noel Fenn, Andrew Caie
Design Director: Ryan Booth
Designers: Ryan Booth, Noel Fenn
Art Directors: Noel Fenn, Curtis Denomme (Social)
Writers: Andrew Caie, George Ault, Joel Felker (Social)
Studio Artists: Greg Heptinstall, Brandon Dyson, Ashleigh O'Brien, Andrew Martin, Amanda
Agency Producers: Kari Macknight Dearborn, Laura Dubcovsky, Pam Portsmouth
Account Team: Kerry McKibbin, Maya Adler
Strategy: Heidi Philip, Jamie Cuthbertson, Sam Kamiel (Social)
Media Agency: Jan Kelley
Media Team: Stephanie Spinney
PR Agency: Weber Shandwick
Client (Company): Harley-Davidson
PR Team: Melissa Graham, Sophie Shin, Dana Frank
Clients: Anoop Prakash, Jo Figueiredo, Karen Mayberry, Vesa Mikkola, Marco Di Giantomasso,
Jayden Rioux, Catherine O’Brien, Daniel Kerr
Photographer: Michael Headford, Jason Baker, Goldmond Fong, Laura Friedmann, Patrick
Nichols, Dan Lim
Sound Recording: Ian Reynolds
Event Company: Construction and fabrication provided by The Mint Agency
Construction, Interior design and Fabrication: The Mint Agency
Mint Project Management: Andrew Gayle, Jennifer Langen, Jon Davine
Mint Interior Design: Adam Elijah
Lead Fabricator: Humberto Garcia
Coffee Ink Producer: Toronto Ink
Poster Printer: Flash Reproductions