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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Motorcycle Marketing - what's changed in 50 years?

A couple of previous posts have mentioned my mate and fellow Coromandel village resident Paul, who is a complete Norton enthusiast, owning a Commando race bike, a pristine Commando road bike which he bought new in the early 70's and a classic 1950's ES2 single.  He's currently in England with his wife visiting family and presumably filling suitcases with bike bits when his infinitely better half isn't watching him like a hawk.

Paul has just visited The Sammy Miller Museum which is a truly world class motorcycle museum.  I suppose that he could have bought me one of the exhibits as an act of true friendship but simply getting a postcard from him was still a lovely gesture.  Rather surprised that it didn't feature a Norton just to rub it in but he was clearly feeling generous as it featured a Triumph!  Here 'tis....

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be!  1955 Tiger 110

The photo on the postcard is the front cover of Motor Cycle magazine from March 1955.  Note the idyllic setting although ummmm...blue skies in the UK might be pushing the boundaries of honest advertising! The Triumph marketing strategy at face value seems fairly blunt.  "Triumph - the best motorcycle in the World".  No facts quoted to back that up but since when have facts had any bearing on advertising right up to the present time?  They're hardly going to say "Best bike in the world and as an added useful feature, it pees so much oil everywhere that your boots will never leak and everything aft of the engine will never go rusty", are they?

But here's where the Triumph marketing department sneaks in a bit of almost subliminal marketing.  Note the implied message, "Buy a Triumph and you'll instantly be turned into a serious chick magnet".  The woman in the foreground simply can't keep her paws off the rider.  Even the pillion passenger in the background can't keep her hands to herself but it could be argued that since the rider seems to be riding on a bumpy grass verge rather than the road, she may be hanging on for dear life. 

The lack of appropriate protective clothing in the advert merely serves to heighten the fact that the rider is a rebel like Dean and Brando, instantly shoving him much higher up the attractiveness quotient scale.  Although the following photo has been posted previously, it does serve to reinforce the implied assertion that Triumph riders with inappropriate riding gear (even those with an appalling fashion sense) are hugely attractive to the opposite sex.  The photo was taken in 1969 at the Isle of Man TT and the bike is a 1955 Tiger 100 (a good year obviously, for Triumph marketers). Fear of further ridicule prevents the identity of the rider from being disclosed.  The pillion was a lovely Scottish lass holidaying in the I.O.M who may have left her spectacles back in Scotland.

Destined never to be chosen as best-dressed man of the year, sigh......

Finally, just to prove to female readers that they too will become magnets to the opposite sex following the purchase of a Triumph, absolute proof is in the photo below.

Paramount Pictures publicity photo

Ann-Margaret was an unknown, unattractive actress before this photo was released.  Stick her on a Triumph in conservatively styled OSH-approved riding gear and bingo, hormones all over the world start sloshing about and Triumph sales skyrocket - I rest my case.

If you should think that this post conjours up the phrase "tongue in cheek", just go and talk to Triumph riders of either sex to get to the truth of the matter.  Better still, buy a Triumph and find out for yourself!

31 comments:

  1. Great post Geoff, very funny. I can think of endless things Iwant to say but I will spare you my wit and humour on this occasion..............ummmmm....................................................................................stuff it, will be down Saturday to pick you up and take you shoe shopping.

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    1. Rog mate!
      You being a Triumph owner and all, I thought I might have a crack at you too but decided to send myself up as I had better material to work with :-).

      Choke...... I'll have you know that suede boots were very much the "in" thing then. Of course, on the hippy Peninsula, all you need is bare feet or sandals and coincidentally, I just bought a pair of Teva sandals which should be my last shoe purchase for the next 20 years. Unless it's new Triumph riding boots of course (Not that I'm influenced by the Triumph Marketers, oh dearie me no....)

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    2. Geoff:

      why didn't you say you lived on the "hippy Peninsula" . I could go for BF and sandals all the time.

      Have you got a photo of Diana Riggs on a Triumph. I never ever knew what that show was all about, I just stared at Diana all the time

      My friend still has his Norton Commando he bought new in 1973. It is better than new

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast
      My Flickr // My YouTube


      I'm hoping never to have to buy shoes again, but I may need one more pair until I stop working.

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    3. Bob,
      I'm also in shorts for 8-9 months of the year (but not on the bike!)

      Alas, no. I must say that all the Avengers girls were pretty spectacular, my favourite being Joanna Lumley, mainly because of her incredible voice!

      Thjat's probably the same year Paul bought his and it's in concours condition.

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    4. Geoff, neither your 60's outfit nor the shorts will make you 'best dressed man' of any year ;-) Try that pair of striped pyjamas...

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    5. Sonja!
      I'm deeply hurt ;-). You're one of the rare people to see me in my PJ's (sounds bad, doesn't it?)but I wouldn't inflict them on others. I'm told that I scrub up ok in a suit though!

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    6. Show me next time I am around, and I'll let you know ;-)

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    7. Can do better than that: http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/2010/04/brief-departure-from-bikes.html - first photo!

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  2. Geoff. that photo could be captioned 'Triumph of fashion over function' - apologies to all those engineers who have had their ideas hijacked by the marketing department. Or - you could have been a little ray of sunshine on a Sunbeam.

    Advertising used to have such an innocence - and we naively believed it... and then there were the road test reports!

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  3. Mark,
    I must have upset the Gods of Engineering somwhere in my life as a few years were subsequently spent working with our marketing people helping to upgrade their systems and processes. There were more than a few teeth-gnashing occasions!

    Oh yes, those road test reports!!! I remember a 60's Bonneville test which claimed that it reached 117 mph. The magazine tester was either drunk, in the pay of the Marketing Dept, or both.

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  4. Here is a link (well just a URL actually) to a pic of the same happy couple on the Tiger 110 many years later in Oz. I love the proportions of those 1950's Tigers.

    http://tarsnakes.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/OOMOO-Run-2004/20926188_vsgW2h#!i=1662268165&k=mPJq2G6&lb=1&s=L

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    1. Wow! I see what you mean - thanks for that Jules! That also partially answers Nikos'question! I have some photos of Jennie and I on bikes together but only on a more modern K100 and Blackbird so the nostalgia factor is lost!

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  5. Warren Beatty (ick) in Shampoo rode one....

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    1. Martha,

      I am impressed that you don't like Warren Beatty as I'm sure he sees himself irresistable to all women. By the same token, I hope you don't brand all Triumph riders as wannabe Warren Beatties ;-). After all, Steve McQueen rose one too!

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  6. Great post Geoff. Nice of Paul to send you a postcard with a Triumph on it. I chuckle at the marketing from back in the day. I

    do think that riding motorcycles attracts a wide variety of people to you. Although in this day and age with the fit of textile gear, it is hard to look sexy. Easier for guys I am sure. If we girls could ride around in outfits like Ann-Maragret that would be a different story.

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    1. Brandy,
      Yes, it was nice and with a Triumph on it, there was clearly no ulterior motive of winding me up!

      Not sure it's any easier for guys - I look like Michelin Man in my armoured textile gear. My summer leathers are slightly more flattering as they hold the flabby bits in quite nicely. I did once remark to Jennie that I looked a chick magnet in them but she brought me back to earth with a thump by adding, "...until you take your helmet off". Sigh....

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    2. That would be so Jennie.

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    3. It would be sooooooo any female who has her guy under control!!!!!

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  7. Did they go on to market the side-car for 9 months after the idyllic scene?

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    1. Nikos!
      Good practical thinking by an engineer! I was never quite sure who were the target market for sidecars. If they were considered a cheaper alternative to cars, surely you'd have seen more on the roads but as I remember, they were still relatively uncommon. Having said that, a neighbour has a Beemer with a bullet sidecar. That's strictly for fun though as his wife rides pillion and his [poodle goes in the sidecar!

      Jules'excellent photo clearly depicts what should ideally happen!

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  8. Ummm. Steve McQueen. That'll do...

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  9. Mark on an MP322 June 2012 at 17:53

    What about Sean Connery or Dr Billy Connolly?? One in a sidecar, one on a trike...

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  10. Sorry Mark,
    A trike or sidecar shows serious character flaws ;-). Said quietly as another person in the household has fantasies about Mr Connery, despite his age!

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  11. Mark on an MP322 June 2012 at 21:08

    I shall refrain from mentioning 'spy photos' - if I had thought of another to join Sean and Billy we might have had the first line of a new Yuletide carol... "We three riders of..."

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  12. Holy Moly! Where can I get one of the motor bicycles that Ann Margret is astride...? Oh...and were you saying something?

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    1. What bike??? Oh, that thing in the Ann-Margaret picture :-).

      A Tiger 100 scrambler from the late 60's. One of their best-looking bikes ever. Available in a light metallic green as one option. I'd love to own one. Lower maintenance than Ann-Margaret too!

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  13. What a neat post! Really enjoyed it!

    Didn't Elvis ride a motorcycle in a movie? I forget...

    I'm sure he looked HOT! LOL

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  14. Thanks Deb!

    My only disappointment with the post is that more female bloggers didn't take the opportunity to rise to the bait and bite back at me!!! Sonja had a pretty decent go, haha!

    Declining numbers of brain cells prevents a clear memory of Elvis on bikes in movies but I think he rode all manner of them. The mind is a little sharper where Ann-Margaret is concerned :-).

    I'll take your word for it that he was hot! From memory, he had sufficient "product" in his hair to act as a shock absorber in its own right. Not sure it met industry standards though.......

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  15. I would buy a triumph in a heartbeat if it would give me the figure of Ann Margaret... Somehow, I don't believe your beloved Triumph can pull off that miracle. So I would say the advertising is lying...

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    1. Oh Lori, you've missed the point!!! I guess you didn't realise that in reality, Ann-Margaret weighs 150kg. It's riding a Triumph that makes her so stunning, a bit like the Emperor's Clothes tale. I'm sure the guys find you irresistible already but with a Triumph, Oilburner would be beating them off with a stick. Trust me on this.....

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