When it came time to launch the new $75 million Harley-Davidson Museum, officials looked to the only company that could help them kick up more than just a little dirt. The Harley Davidson Museum serves as a celebration of the Harley journey. It inspires enthusiasts and the general public alike to connect with the stories of the people, products, and history of the brand that transformed itself into a lifestyle.
The biggest challenge and what made the Harley Museum launch different from many other museums was that this was an actual living museum, constantly moving and changing, not a static historical perspective. Another challenge was to create an event that didn’t come off as fake or phony but rather seemed authentic and real to the H-D brand.
This innovative experience needed a unique and memorable groundbreaking and launch event… we were prepared to deliver just that.
The glisten of chrome in the sunlight and the smell of rubber burning on hot asphalt roads is the life-blood of our existence and gives purpose to our way of life. We break our backs and our blood, sweat, and tears breathe life into the machines we build. It’s the blood sweat and tears we pour into our daily efforts to break free from our computers, the confines of our cubicles and industrial plants to attain the ultimate muscle machine-chromed out, vibrating engine, pulsating energy-the motorcycle between our legs. Gas fuels our engines and we fuel yours. It’s our stories. It’s our lives. It’s our passion. It’s our legacy. It’s our museum.
The groundbreaking needed to embrace the Harley-Davidson of the past while stitching a connection to H-D’s present and future. When they were ready to break ground on the much-anticipated museum, we decided against the usual “shovel brigade” that everyone sees as a suit clad affair with golden shovels, our audience wouldn't care to see that… but that didn’t mean we couldn’t make fun of the cliche.
To make this memorable… we gathered a massive crowd at the museum site and had local and state representatives as well as Harley leadership. On the count of three the assembly of dignitaries stuck shovels in the ground and the crowd cheered for what would be remembered as a defining moment in H-D history … but there was one more surprise.
At the right moment, the “shovel brigade” of dignitaries, including Willie G
Davidson, the state governor and the mayor or Milwaukee, threw down their
shovels and watched as a faux wall fell forward revealing legendary
Harley-Davidson dirt track racer Scott Parker, who proceeded to do a burnout
that sent the dirt flying off the spinning rear tire.
And just when everyone thought the fun was over, Moon Landing’s vision
for literally "bottling" the experience for future generations to bare witness was
set in motion. Vials with tags commemorating the day's activities were provided
toguests who quickly went to their knees to fill them with dirt, forever marking the
Harley-Davidson milestone. Some even showed up on Ebay in the following days for a hefty price tag.
With the overwhelming success and response of the groundbreaking event, the bar had been raised for the grand opening…so we knew we needed to go even bigger.
On the day of the museum opening in a 20-acre lot brimming with motorcycles, enthusiasts and bands, Moon Landing helped kick off the event with a cannon blast alerting the crowd
that the ceremonies were to begin.
On the roof of the museum, an up-and-coming local musician performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his electric guitar while the crowd gathered. Jim Ziemer, Harley-Davidson president and CEO, provided opening remarks and delighted the crowd with news that he was going to get a tattoo during the day’s festivities.
Again, we convinced H-D leadership that the typical ribbon cutting wouldn’t cut it for their brand that was all about freedom and rebellion. Instead, it was done in true Harley style. A 300-foot primary chain was cut with a torch, creating an amazing spectacle for attendees.
Tours began immediately following the grand opening ceremonies. Attractions outside the Museum included food booths, bands, local radio station interviews and an opportunity to watch Jim Ziemer get his tattoo.
In all, both events were covered worldwide, receiving coverage in nearly every market and 50 million impressions combined. The events attracted tens of thousands of Harley enthusiasts and the museum is now recognized as a Milwaukee landmark and a bucket-list venue for Harley owners from all over the world. The groundbreaking event was dubbed just that - a truly amazing experience that sent chills down the spines of all those who attended and watched the news coverage.
The two events both had experiential elements that aligned with the Harley-Davidson brand. Both events were surprising, unusual, and gave us another opportunity to remind people that Harley Davidson has attitude and likes to do things their own way. This creative approach later spurred Harley-Davidson to tap Moon Landing to work on other events and campaigns.