Harley-Davidson’s Project LiveWire Experience Tour, which last year reached more than 15,000 Americans, has unplugged its electric motorcycles and is headed to Asia and Europe. The tour, which launched with media and invitation-only consumer rides at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit on Feb. 25, will continue through the fall and includes 13 stops in Canada and the U.S.
While this effort is Harley-Davidson’s first large-scale global product campaign, the company in 2013 held large-scale activations around the world to celebrate its 110th anniversary, which culminated at its Milwaukee headquarters and included a papal blessing at the Vatican. The goal this time is to introduce LiveWire prototype electric motorcycles to new riders and to gain insights from a global audience on its first foray into electric motorcycle technology.
“We want to show the forward thinking of Harley-Davidson and provide perhaps what is for a lot of people an unexpected move by us,” says Matt King, integrated communications manager at Harley-Davidson. “We see Project LiveWire as an opportunity to show the world what Harley-Davidson is capable of dreaming about and eventually producing.”
The global experience has the same look and feel as last year’s domestic Project LiveWire Experience tour, which sent two fleets of 11 LiveWires around the country for influencer events, consumer engagements and test drives. “Other than translating the materials into multiple languages, and we’re pretty well-versed in doing that sort of thing, essentially what we have done is taken the assets of one of those trucks and sent it to Europe,” King says.
The tour offers consumers the chance to test drive a LiveWire on city streets or hop on a stationary demo model for a simulated riding experience that syncs with a visual display of a giant wave image as they rev up the bike. Attendees can also try on a concept helmet, a possible accessory for the LiveWire, with a built-in Google Glasses-type of monocle display. Other engagements include a Twitter-activated vending machine dropping Harley-Davidson swag and social media stations for attendees to upload photos of themselves on the bike.
In Malaysia and Europe, however, because the LiveWires are prototypes instead of full-production road-worthy models, the events will take place on closed-course locations instead of on the streets. Another challenge: the fleet is somewhat smaller than it was in the U.S. last year, so in Europe, consumers can enter a contest for a chance to be one of the first 1,000 people to ride Project LiveWire at one of five locations in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands from May to August.
Harley-Davidson’s internal event staff develops and activates the strategy behind the tour, as well as the tour logistics with an assist from agencies as needed to create and produce marketing support materials.
A major component of the tour, the consumer and dealer feedback, remains as important as it was last year as the brand seeks input from potential riders in emerging markets.
“They see our brand from a different lens and we want to get all that feedback,” King says. “We are very serious about producing electric motorcycles, and as we study the technology and hopefully help propel it along and wait for it to mature, we are gathering the information to understand what is a successful Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle really going to be able to deliver to the customer.” Agency: In-house.