Henry Ford once grew soybeans for research, and now his corporate descendants are trying to learn a thing or two from hogs. The motorcycle kind, that is.
With a new five-year marketing agreement with motorcycle legend Harley Davidson, Ford Division is exploring everything from co-branding a vehicle to benchmarking Harley's relationship-marketing strategy to the sale of aftermarket accessories.
Bob Masone, Ford Division's F-150 brand manager, says it's likely that by this summer Ford will announce a high-performance Harley-themed vehicle similar to the Eddie Bauer Expedition and Nautica Villager. The likely candidates: the F-150 or perhaps a large pickup, such as the Super Duty.
Ford executives hope the Harley brand's swaggering image will rub off on the Ford trucks.
Ford also plans to benchmark Harley Davidson's owner-relationship programs, such as its Harley Owner Group database, known as HOG. HOG tracks each Harley owner in terms of what motorcycle and aftermarket products he or she buys.
'They know how to sell parts (for motorcycles) and they get every single dime of the accessories business, Masone says. 'There are definitely some things that we can learn from them.'
The five-year deal calls for Ford to sponsor the Harley team in the Superbike racing series and loan some motorsports engineers to Harley to improve the performance of Harley's racing bikes.