Respecting Heritage and Pushing Boundaries: It’s the Indian Scout

The music: American.  The look: rural and aged.  The product: edgy.  A deadly combination for a recently resurgent motorcycle brand.

Founded in 1901, Indian is the oldest motorcycle brand in America.  Once the dominant market choice, Indian lost its number one ranking after World War I to Harley-Davidson and eventually went under in 1953.  One of the models created was the Indian Scout, produced from 1920 to 1949.  A sleek and iconic design with revolutionary engineering, this bike was built to make a comeback in today’s hipster driven market.  Indian was recently acquired by Polaris Industries who has taken to re-introducing the brand to market.  Forbes has already cited the drop in Harley-Davidson’s market share and the rapidly increasing revenue brought in by Indian bikes.

Okay, enough profit and percentages, let’s take a moment to fully appreciate the beauty that is this promo video.  Four minutes and fourteen seconds of subtle surprises.  We start with the sound of an antique radio announcer, see our prized antique motorcycle about to plunge into the wall of death, and then that narrator.  Doesn’t he sound just remarkably…normal?  No strange accent, a non-noteworthy pitch, consistent tone; he seems like, well, just a regular dude.  All he is, is a historian, probably in his 40s or 50s, with really good diction.  Bit of a stray from the hardened and tattooed motorcycle stereotype- didn’t see that one coming.  Next surprise: instead of dressing the audience up in period clothing, they’re in modern clothes, watching a carnival act popularized in the 1910s.  Surprise number three: Scout is personified a high speed racer and a soldier.  Hit the viewer with a few shots of the good ole red, white, and blue along with some rock and roll (perhaps bringing us back to the traditional biker stereotype?) and we are introduced to the shiny, sexy, already legendary 2015 Scout.  And dang is it hot. But wait….is that…a woman rider?  Well, played Indian.  These shots interlacing a woman and man rider (separately might I add) bridge the gap, showing that Scout is a gender neutral bike that makes you look like a badass no matter what.  Oh, and did you notice that the shot was of the man rider when the voiceover referenced new riders? That’s right feminists, chalk one up for equality.

Okay, so we’ve made all the connections to the old Scout, but now it’s time to wow the consumer with the auto-jargon that proves this model has that 20th century look with 21st century power.  Kudos to the copywriter who transitioned this leap expertly with the “forward-leading lines” comment.  A nice combination of coastline and industrial wastelands create an all-encompassing view of where this bike belongs.  A few promotional shots of available accessories and decals, and the storyline comes to a close as our wall of death performer completes his rounds.

There’s a lot to say about this video; so many nuances that make it great.  The artistic filters over certain clips flowing seamlessly in with the shiny red of the new and modern Scout and the three music themes enhance the stunning cinematography.  I expect enthusiasts will jump on this new bike (no pun intended), but that’s not going to be enough to keep them afloat.  Polaris has priced these bikes competitively with Harley-Davidson’s cruisers to give new consumers pause before jumping onto a Harley.  They also have big technology plans for the bikes, announcing at the Forbes Reinventing America Summit that bikes will soon have screens offering mileage counts, music applications, and a safety tool to make sure your bike is properly functioning.

This dynamic revitalization is exciting to see in an otherwise fairly creatively stagnant market. It will be interesting to see where this promo ends up and how the industry will react to the competition.

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