Terminator Branding: 5 Questions on Harley-Davidson Product Placement


Terminator Genisys Harley-Davidson product placement

The Terminator franchise is not often examined for its achievements in product placement. But years ago, we argued that it was a trendsetter in a number of ways, putting then-small brands like Gargoyle and Nike on the map. That tradition has continued with the latest film, Terminator Genisys, which opens on July 1st.

terminator 5 harley

Longtime Terminator co-star Harley-Davidson is back, alongside Arnold. The iconic Wisconsin-based motorcycle brand is proud of its association with the franchise, dating back to Terminator 2 when Arnold rode a Harley Fat Boy. That bike now resides in the Harley-Davidson museum.

Terminator: Genisys Harley Davidson product placement premiere

For the latest Terminator film, Harley-Davidson is hitting the red carpet and launching a variety promotions worldwide, such as giveaway in Australia, where Arnold himself lent a promotional hand.

Terminator Genisys Harley-Davidson

In America, Harley-Davidson is just coming off its wild ride as one of the standout stars of  The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which featured its Project LiveWire electric motorcycle concept.

We spoke with Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson Director US Marketing and Communications, about Harley in Hollywood, Project LiveWire delays and the bike-maker’s #rollyourown campaign.

brandchannel: Will the Project LiveWire delay impact your entertainment marketing programs?

Dino Bernacchi: The Project LiveWire Experience Tour is an effort to gain deeper insight into what customers are looking for from Harley-Davidson in this type of product. An exact launch date hasn’t been announced as we will launch that product when it lives up to customer demands. So, there is no impact on entertainment marketing programs. As we did in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we plan to continue to showcase it in the right places.

bc: Harley-Davidson recently partnered with Davie Brown Entertainment. How has this changed Harley-Davidson’s long-running relationship in Hollywood?

Dino Bernacchi: It hasn’t. As part of our efforts to grow the sport of Harley-Davidson motorcycling, we’ve been on an aggressive pursuit to put Harley-Davidson in some of the bigger entertainment properties and to leverage them as part of our marketing plan.

Davie Brown has been a great partner helping us find the right properties and connecting us to the right individuals, but it’s ultimately the relationships and partnerships that we at Harley-Davidson foster and build that connect the right opportunities for us.  We’re interested in finding the right brand partners, the right property fit and making our involvement a win-win, for Harley-Davidson and the entertainment partner.

bc: Have you ever turned down a movie role that you later wished you would have taken?

Dino Bernacchi: No. We have a good process in seeking the right properties that fit our brand. Just because a movie or TV show might be getting lots of attention doesn’t mean it’s automatically right for Harley-Davidson.  The properties we work with have to live up to the image and attitude that embodies Harley-Davidson.

bc: What’s your favorite movie Harley of all time?

Dino Bernacchi: I’m not sure I have just one.  I will say when Arnold rode the Fat Boy in Terminator 2, it was pretty cool.  I remember seeing that and saying as a young man, “I want a Fat Boy one day”.  And yes, when I got my license I bought a Fat Boy, though mine was Denim Black.  But great movies like Easy Rider and our most current effort with Avengers 2, show just how cool our bikes are in movies and TV shows.

Harley-Davidson Avengers Ultron Black Widow Scarlet Johansson

bc: Away from movies, how is the #rollyourown campaign being used to break rider stereotypes? And does Project LiveWire fit into #rollyourown in some way?

Dino Bernacchi: We shot real people riding their Harley-Davidsons in their own, authentic way.  The point of the spot is, there is no “stereotype” for who rides a Harley and how they ride it.

And recent Polk data shows the diversity of Harley-Davidson customers quite well. In 2014, for the seventh straight year, Harley-Davidson was the number one seller of new on-road motorcycles in the US to young adults 18-34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics as well as white men 35-plus. Ultimately, any Harley-Davidson can fit in this campaign.  And yes, I think (Scarlett Johansson’s) Black Widow in Avengers 2 proved what wild things can be done on an electrified LiveWire!

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