It’s no secret the Harley Davidson’s marketing team is doing something right – the company has a passionate social media following and passionate customers, but one Harley Davidson dealer on Vancouver Island, British Columbia just earned some well-deserved PR, not as a result of a major media campaign, but because it decided to do something good for someone who had lost almost everything.
A Vancouver Island resident recently came upon an unexpected find washed ashore on a local beach – a damaged, heavily rusted Harley Davidson motorcycle in a Styrofoam-lined storage container.
Japanese writing on the license plate gave clues to the bike’s origin – turns out it had floated over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean – washed out to sea by last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan.
After a bit of research and collaboration between a Harley Davidson dealership in Vancouver and a Harley representative in Japan who saw a television report of the bike’s discovery, the Harley Davidson company hatched a plan. They would restore and return the bike to owner Ikuo Yokoyama, who lost three family members, his home and all his possessions when the tsunami battered Japan’s northeast coast.
Harley Davidson’s decision to restore and return the bike makes for the best possible type of PR – the kind generated by companies that know the value of their product or service, appreciate their customers as people (not just dollars) and most importantly – show good, old-fashioned human kindness; because it’s the right thing to do.
So kudos to Harley Davidson! A company that’s gone out of its way to restore and ship just one motorcycle halfway across the world – you’ve just given the term “earned media” a whole new meaning.