The Rebel for Gentle Brands

The Gentle Rebel


A persistent cultural interest in extraterrestrials, the ultimate Rebels, can be attributed to the Rebel. Rebels are often pictured as dark, dangerous figures capable of destroying the planet, just as aliens are generally portrayed this way. However, they can also be portrayed as technologically and spiritually advanced, so they can help us overcome our self-destructive impulses. Products, of course, are generally associated with the latter.


 Occasionally, the Rebel imagery is used in a lighthearted way, as with Milky Way Midnight, which was advertised as "dangerously bold chocolate" that was "finally out of prison." Because the Rebel image conjures up secret and shameful behavior, it's a good leverage point for lighthearted ads.  

During a typical boardroom meeting, one of the most famous Lottery ads ever begins with the announcement that the company has been acquired by Bobby From the mailroom. After winning the lottery, he purchases the company and tells the former CEO what kind of coffee he likes. The ad plays on the desire to defy work ethics--and turn the tables on the boss--fueled by research that shows most lottery players are motivated by job dissatisfaction. 


  From Gentle to the Rebel's piece de resistance- Harley-Davidson


As an American icon, Harley-Davidson captures the Rebel rather than the heroic side of America. It is no longer inconceivable for a motorcycle company to sponsor a racing team. In 1915, Harley-Davidson sponsored The Wrecking Crew, a daredevil group of riders whose antics led to several accidents and fatalities. As well as used by the military, Harleys were used to deliver the mail by the post office. 


Years ago, Harley-Davidson was in serious trouble because the Japanese were selling a better motorcycle at a lower price. But by marketing cleverly, Harley-Davidson was able to regain market share. In addition, the company was able to sell clothing and accessories linked not by function but by archetype by promoting the brand's personality in addition to building motorcycles. 


Because of the large price tag, the owners of Harleys tend to be professional people who want to show off their wild side. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are often associated with Hells Angels and other rebellious groups. The rebel personality is a complicated one; for example, it is associated with patriotism, but not like Hero would view it. Research found that Harley-Davidson riders viewed riding a Harley as a more patriotic act than obeying the law. Often associated with Japan-bashing, this is Harley riders' only form of nationalistic patriotism. 

 Besides the fact that many Harley-Davidson customers sport tattoos, one of the most popular is the Harley-Davidson symbol. Riders think Harleys are more than just a motorcycle-they're a lifestyle, one where freedom is not just about freedom, but freedom from conventional values as well. Harley riders often wear black leather, heavy boots, chrome, weapons, long hair, boots, and body piercings--as well as tattoos. As an opposite to the wholesomeness of Regular Guy/Gal Saturn reunions, Harley gatherings have a more rebellious quality. The Harley Web site asks riders to answer a simple question. "You have to ask yourself how you'd rather be remembered. As a pasty, web-wired computer wiz, strapped to an office chair? Or as a leather-clad adventurer who lived life to the fullest."


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