Polaris Industries, Inc.: The New American Motorcycle campaign

Ed Digner


In 1998 Polaris Industries, Inc., best known as a manufacturer of snowmobiles, introduced the Victory Motorcycle, the first new American motorcycle to be introduced in 60 years. Although it was part of the cruiser category dominated by Harley-Davidson, Victory was not intended to challenge the icon of the industry. Rather, Polaris looked to find its own niche in a large and growing category, hoping to play off its American roots to take sales away from Japanese companies Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. To help establish Victory in the marketplace, Minneapolis-based advertising agency Martin/Williams launched a major marketing campaign in the summer of 2000.

The campaign, estimated at $2-4 million, centered on print ads that appeared mostly in the leading motorcycle magazines. To a lesser degree Polaris spent money on television spots that ran on national cable channels and in some local markets on a spot basis. Some local radio advertising was also done. The main objective was to convince potential customers to visit their local Victory dealer, where they could pick up promotion materials but more importantly could take a Victory motorcycle for a test-ride. The motorcycle itself was expected to close the sale.