Harley-Davidson chief marketing officer Mark-Hans Richter has left the company, leaving industry watchers wondering: What next?
While marketing bigwigs aren’t normally important news, in the MoCo’s case, this probably is significant. High-profile designers like Pierre Terblanche create headlines when they change jobs, because they indicate a company is changing direction.
For a company like Harley-Davidson, that’s driven as much by marketing and lifestyle appeal as it is by technological development, a change at the top like this means the times, they are a’changin.
The news is even more interesting when we look back at reports of Harley-Davidson’s Q3 sales slide, and its subsequent announcement that the company was dumping lots of money into its marketing program, laying off 250 workers to free up cash for a 65 per cent increase in the marketing budget.
More money, plus a change at the top — what does it mean? Are we going to see the same old star-spangled, eagle-draped, freedom-espousing slogans of the past, or is the company going to go bravely where it never has before (at least, not since the 1950s). Will we see more machines like the Street 500 and Street 750, or the Livewire? Or will we see more CVO machines marketed at Rich Urban Bikers and their ilk? Just guessing, looking at population demographics, the answer to that question is going to be very important to the MoCo’s long-term survival.
Richter had been with Harley-Davidson since 2007. He will be replaced by Sean Cummings, the VP who was also formerly managing director for Harley-Davidson’s Latin America region.