Harley Revs up its Charity Ride with a Theme Park
Watching a fleet of 25,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles come roaring down the freeway is enough to make your heart race. And that’s exactly what the brand wanted to do with its 25th annual Love Ride—the world’s largest one-day motorcycle fundraising event that has donated over $21 million to non-profit organizations since its inception.
The program revved up in July with a press event featuring Dennis Hopper and Robbie Knievel. Over the next three months, more events were activated at Harley-Davidson dealerships and lifestyle locations including local community events and popular bike hangouts. Each of Southern California’s 27 dealerships drove traffic to their locations with in-store mini Love Ride experiences that included live musical performances, on-site brand ambassadors, branded premium giveaways and Harley rides.
“One of our jobs as a dealer is to encourage people to ride because if they don’t ride, they’re not going to keep spending money with you,” says Oliver Shokouh, owner of Glendale Harley-Davidson/Buell and founder of the Love Ride. “They’re not going to spend money at the dealership for accessories, service, riding apparel and so forth. So one of the best things that we can do with the Love Ride is to encourage people to get out there and ride. It promotes the whole sport but it also promotes the dealership’s livelihood.”
On Oct. 26, 25,000 motorcyclists from around the world convoyed 60 miles from the Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale dealership to the Pomona Fairplex fairgrounds which had been transformed into a Harley-Davidson theme park that included a vendor village, stunt rider demos, an H-D fleet ride-and-drive experience, tattoo artists and more. A full charity village was constructed to provide a home for partner charity organizations like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Autism Speaks and Special Olympics.
One of the event’s main goals was to re-brand the Love Ride to attract younger enthusiasts. To make the connection, the brand updated event graphics, launched an online outreach campaign and booked a relevant modern rock band—Foo Fighters—to appeal to the younger demo. (The Tubes and ZZ Top rocked it for the “old” folks.) By the end of the day, the event raised over $2 million and drew more than 5,000 new attendees.
After 25 years on the road, the Love Ride platform still stays true to the unique culture and lifestyle of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts while leveraging celebrity tie-ins (like Grand Marshall Jay Leno, Peter Fonda, Gene Simmons, Larry Hagman and William Shatner), youth-oriented artists and worthy causes to attract potential new easy riders. That gets our motors runnin’.