Harley-Davidson issues a connected challenge

The brand uses mobile, beacon and GPS tech in a contest that aims to get riders on the road and engaged with their community.

Harley-Davidson has spent the summer celebrating its 100th anniversary in Canada with a contest that utilizes GPS and mobile technology to get riders exploring the routes this country has to offer.

EatSleepRide Motorcycle GPS – a mobile app from the online riding community of the same name – allows riders to do things like track their ride, share “reports” that illustrate their route with photos and events recorded along the way, find nearby riders to meet up with, send their location or crash reports to contacts and discover new routes to ride on.

By partnering with EatSleepRide, Harley-Davidson has been running the “H-D 100 Challenge” this summer. Riders can collect points by simply riding and recording their trips with the app, but they can get extra points by visiting a special, curated list of points of interest, “iconic” riding routes in Canada, a Harley-Davidson dealership or one of the “Test Our Metal” events in Ontario and Quebec.

In addition to the GPS tech that tracks a rider’s route, Bluetooth beacons have been placed in Harley dealerships to recognize when a rider using the app has entered.

The contest wraps up next week. The grand prize is a Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special motorcycle outfitted with a special 100th anniversary paint kit, with a range of other merchandise prizes also available.

As the broader automotive industry has become increasingly focused on bringing technology and connected capabilities into vehicles, motorcycles have largely been left out of that conversation. By utilizing mobile, GPS and Bluetooth technology, Harley-Davidson can connect to riders through a device most of them are carrying with them anyway, as well as create a ecosystem that speaks to the ways riders want to connect while they are on the road.

Jay Owen, who was named marketing director for Harley-Davidson Canada in December, says a big part of Harley-Davidson’s marketing plan for its 100th anniversary is celebrating riding and its community. That’s why the app partnership was a good fit: it not only connects with riders as they are on the road, it encourages them to hit the road and engages with the larger community.

“If it was just something where you get points for coming back to get extra content, people would drop off,” Owen says. “If you’re actively involved with the community and riding and visiting retailers, all of that is going to benefit you because you’re going to be rewarded.”

Owen adds that EatSleepRide also speaks to riders’ growing desire to share their experiences on the road through social networks.

“There’s a lot of 20- and 30- year-olds that are engaged in those spaces and showing off what they are doing on their motorcycles,” he says. “It’s with them all the time, it’s engaging and it gives them a platform that helps them share. As a brand, we want to be part of that and relevant to that market.”

While the main audience for the contest has been those already within the motorcycle community, Owen says it is also contributing to Harley-Davidson’s goal of bringing a more diverse range of people into the brand ecosystem.

“For people considering getting into the category, the opportunity is to show them that, as a brand, we are engaging and we appreciate when they get involved with our sport and give them the opportunity to be part of a larger community of motorcycle riders,” he says. “So much emphasis today is on personal technologies. It’s always going to be a necessity to challenge ourselves and our markets. That’s a big reason why mobile solutions work well for market expansion and brand identification and connection.”