Monthly Archives: August 2009

brammo badging blows up with bogusky…ooopsy

unique styling and top notch engineering set Enertia apartStartup electric motorcycle manufacturer Brammo’s hit a bit of a rough patch as they roll out their instore marketing effort. The Ashland, OR bike builder set out to travel the road less traveled, yet the uproar over the latest wrinkle from the South Florida ad shop charged with making their market is not what’s needed in a struggling channel.

Background: Swoopy machine with state-of-the-art content; aluminum frame, lithium ion fuel, quirky – quirky? – naming strategy. Nicely interactive work-in-progress web site. Looks like a well constructed, well thought out machine that, if not ready for the masses, is certainly intriguing, albeit pricey, for some of us who already ride. So far, so good. Continue reading

dealer show trade wars

more shows, fewer dealers - something doesn't add upMotorsports has another performance oriented venue for dealers to put on the go – no go list: upstart International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) now goes head to head with the well established Performance Racing Industry (PRI) event, both held the first week in December: IMIS in Indianapolis, the former home of PRI, which was successfully transplanted to usually sunny Orlando and a much larger exhibit facility a few years back.

And both of those shows compete for many of the same dealers normally attending the granddaddy of all automotive events, the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) Las Vegas spectacle traditionally held less than a month earlier in November.

SEMA, meanwhile, padded their portfolio with a newly created Powersports and Utility Vehicles channel which, according to their March press release, “…will feature manufacturers of power-driven equipment, such as personal transporters; motorcycles; motor scooters; two-, three- and four-wheel ATVs; pocket bikes; specialty golf carts; mini-bikes; dirt bikes; and accessories and services that support these vehicles.”

Good news – not – for long established powersports event leader Advanstar who this week conceded more collateral damage to their brand when they announced the Lucas Oil Stadium venue would not be part of their mid-February 2010’s Dealer Expo, also held in Indy after vacating Cincinnati for larger digs in 1998.

And it was that relocation decision that opened the door for Easyriders V-Twin Dealer Expo to move back in with a v-twin centric show of their own in 2000, held a week before Dealer Expo and next year celebrating their 10th anniversary as a trade show producer.

Five major shows covering powersports and motorsports between November and February. If you’re a powersports or motorsports or, worse, a cross channel dealer, be prepared to spend a lot more time on the road wearing out shoe leather and traversing TSA inspections.

when i first met billy lane

billy lane in the beginningThe first time I met Billy Lane (left) he wasn’t exactly in any danger of being mobbed by autograph hounds. He was riding a wooden stool in a 10×10 booth at the ’99 Dealer Expo, directly facing Pro One’s transporter and island display. What caught my eye then was the meticulous 16″ spoke rear he was showing off. That, and the whack straight pipes exiting directly over the 3-inch belt drive that surely wouldn’t get five blocks before hitting the self-destructo button.

He returned in 2000, this time with a build that drew the eye of pal Keith Ball (far left), former Easyriders editor on his first trip east to check out the Expo crowd and on the verge of launching What I most remember is that Keith didn’t know Billy. Neither did good buddy and IronWorks magazine founder Dennis Stemp. And the two to this day most knowledgeable v-twin editors to ever commit ink to paper didn’t know each other. So there we all were, and I was able to make the introductions. Just weeks later Dennis would succumb to the miserably ugly esophageal cancer he’d battled. Talk about irony.

I grew up in Cocoa, just a few miles up the road from Billy’s Melbourne shop, and would visit Chopper Inc. headquarters at his request a couple of times to discuss marketing, coming away with only a half-dozen t-shirts and a handful of clipped bomber nose art inspired stickers. We’d talk on the phone once more, about public relations, just as the cable show celeb arc was in full swing and that was that. Talk about irony.

billy lane draws six year sentence for vehicular homicide convictionJesse James was about five minutes ahead of Billy career wise and is now a bona fide Hollywood “A” list minus celeb. Today a Brevard County judge wrote finis to the reality chopper build as entertainment fad, when he sentenced Billy to six years in prison followed by three years probation for his vehicular homicide conviction. Talk about irony.

As a University of Florida grad, what always struck me was Billy’s education: Florida State engineering grad, just up the road from Gainesville. Not often found in the pedigrees of hot rod bike builders, for sure.

Talk about irony. Talk about fate. Talk about paths taken. Talk about life’s turns.

old dog, new – sorta – tricks

goodwill stores get needed makeover to draw better crowdFile under things I thought I’d never see happen: several Goodwill stores have cleaned up their act to attract a more affluent demo. It’s true. According to DDI (Display and Design Ideas) magazine, the poster child for thrift store retail has decided the time is right to recalibrate and relaunch in an attempt to draw a coveted upscale shopper.

The first do-over, in Chelsea, NY, has already reported a noticeable increase in foot traffic and that can only be good for the brand, regardless. Other stores around the country are also ditching their bargain basement roots as they aggresively target a more affluent customer.

Marketing includes local t.v., direct mail and print, online ads, social media and events.

vespa event markets

AdAge gives a sorta shoutout to Piaggio's pr strategyIn this Ad Age 3 Minute Video Piaggio US is highlited for their recent NYC pr effort to shore up brand and message by pitching fuel economy and immediately took a whack to the head by owners/viewers who can’t find the connection.

The entire industry having enjoyed immensely last year’s four-buck-a-gallon price spike for gas that serendipitously coincided with the worst recession since the depression perhaps missed the point hidden within record sales. Looks to some like mistaking lifestyle love for economy class lust is a monster golden opportunity missed to connect at the emotional level instead of grabbing for the wallet.

An interesting piece by Lee Klancher in MPN’s August issue casts fresh light on the relevance- and role – of mpg claims as a marketing ploy. Taken together, these two articles (and the surrounding comments) lead to only one conclusion: playing the price of gas card for creative inspiration is picking the lowest of the low hanging fruit.