Harley-Davidson Cologne: Worst Idea Ever?


Harley-Davidson cologne is something that’s new to my life. I just found out about it 2 minutes ago through a mention in a Create Your Own Position post for Huckberry. I want to work with the good people at Huckberry and figured what better way to show them how I roll than to write an article about Harley-Davidson cologne. Since it’s the worst combo since lamb and tunafish I know this will be a good ride.

I’m not opposed to brands creating their own scent. On Bacon Sports we already covered the athlete fragrances that we’d like to see so I’m more willing to be down than the average person. Before pre-judging Harley-Davidson cologne and labeling it the worst idea ever I need to do my due diligence. Maybe there’s a chance that it’s slightly better than Crystal Pepsi.


Since there’s not a Harley-Davidson cologne delivery service app (yet) I’m not going to be able to see if it passes the smell test. I’m just gonna assume it smells like a cross between motor oil, a half drank cup of beer from last night’s party, and tree bark. Like a super duper broke Abercrombie Woods.

Since I believe in the power of authentic, high quality marketing then seeing a video and photo for Harley-Davidson cologne will be more than enough to help make my decision. Up first we’ve got one of their marketing videos.

Talk about a turd sandwich. The title says “Smell Like A Badass” but at no point in the video did I even remotely see or hear anything that said “badass.” Harley-Davidson cologne decided to go all in on one joke/punchline that totally missed the mark. Had they read my 21 comedy writing tips then maybe they would have created something that resonated with the audience and got their message across in a fun and engaging way.

With a rugged brand like Harley-Davidson they most certainly could have used Tip #10 (ruffle some feathers). They tried to do Tip #14 (heighten contrast) but in doing so they totally missed on Tip #15 (know what joke you’re telling, and make sure your reader knows what joke you’re telling.) They are selling badass and there’s no sign of badass anywhere. That’s where Tip #21 comes in, concept is king. Harley-Davidson cologne had the wrong concept.

Had they been dead set on using the elevator concept here’s how I would have salvaged it:

Have the normal looking dude see an attractive girl in his office walking towards the elevator to go to lunch. He sprays on the Harley-Davidson cologne and scampers to get in the elevator with her. When the doors shut (just the two of them) the normal looking dude turns into Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy and there’s actually a motorcycle in the elevator (reinforcing the badassness of the dude and the Harley-Davidson brand plus tightening up the physical space.)


To escalate it even further (Tip #13) you could add a few doses of what Carls Jr does with their ads and ratchet up the sex appeal (note: not full doses, just enough to have some edge and increase attention.) That’ll certainly have the badassness drippin.

Last scene is the doors opening, the attractive girl leaves smiling, and the normal looking dude looking like the normal looking dude. Smell Like A Badass.


Now for the Harley-Davidson cologne print ad. I spray on cologne daily and at no point in my 15 years of applying it did I ever decide to spray it in my face, especially not with my eyes open. That’s a recipe for blindness, not badassness. Sure that guy looks all hard with his long hair and tribal tats, but he’s also 100% stupid. Stupid ain’t gonna sell me. Because of that I’m agreeing with Huckberry and saying that this is the worst idea ever.

(Side Note: what wouldn’t be the worst idea ever is heading over to Huckberry and checking out their awesome selection of cologne. You’ll smell the opposite of Harley-Davidson cologne.)

ACTION ITEM: I want to hear from you. How would you have polished the disaster that was Harley-Davidson cologne? Hit me up on Twitter @RobCressy or via email at rob@cressmedia.com.

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