Droga5 Brings Surreal Artistry to Harley-Davidson’s Enduring Promise of Escape

It's the agency's first work for the 116-year-old brand

"Magic Hour," part of Droga5's new campaign for Harley-Davidson, focuses on the way a good ride can affect your body and soul. Droga5
Headshot of Mitch Reames

What’s the allure of riding a motorcycle? Is it the powerful engine, the community that comes with riding, or just the ability to save precious time by weaving between cars in rush hour traffic?

For Harley-Davidson, the goal is simply to cut through the noise in our digital lives with the growling sound of a Twin Cam engine, carving out an escape from monotony.

For many of us, the first thing we see in the morning is an email and the last thing is a tweet, with one of the few disconnects during the day being while driving, though even that is limited to the confines of a commute. (If you aren’t disconnecting during that time, please start.)

In its first campaign for the brand, Droga5 capitalizes on that freeing feeling of driving by connecting it to the vehicles with the fewest restraints. While personal liberation certainly isn’t a new theme for Harley-Davidson advertising, Droga5 brings a new level of surreal artistry to the theme.

“Breathe” gives off some 1984-meets-Radiohead vibes as a detached voice pleads with a rider to return to the digital matrix of complacency. The work also debuts a new and minimalist visual identity for the brand.

While “Breathe” focuses on the negative aspects of modern society, building nicely if intensely to the eventual payoff in the final 10 seconds, “Magic Hour” captures the imagination as a disjointed, intense sequence that could have worked just as well as a psychedelic trip scene in a movie. Just read a snippet of the script:

“You’re flying, but centered. Lost, but found. Every part of your body is engaged, every part of your mind is activated. Synapses firing, dopamine oozing. It’s chemical. You get off and you feel reborn. A god.”

Creating new campaigns that take a legacy brand in new directions is especially challenging, but Droga5 succeeds here by bridging a classic idea of independence with the grim realities of modern life.


Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Global Chief Creative Officer: Neil Heymann
Co-Chief Creative Officer: Felix Richter
Co-Chief Creative Officer: Tim Gordon
Executive Creative Director: Casey Rand
Executive Creative Director: Kevin Brady
Creative Director: Thom Glover
Creative Director: Marybeth Ledesma
Associate Creative Director: George McQueen
Associate Creative Director: Tom McQueen
Senior Copywriter: Dan Litzow
Art Director: Gemma Slack
Copywriter: Jenny Yoon
Art Director: Maria Kouninski
Chief Design Officer: Jason Severs
Group Design Director: Rich Greco
Group Design Director: Devin Croda
Group Experience Design Director: Craig Wong
Senior User Experience Designer: James Garvey
Associate Director, Experience Design: Jenny Clark
Experience Designer: Owen DiRienz
Junior Experience Designer: Xin An
Design Director: Anna Fine
Senior Designer: Albie Eloy
Content Strategy Lead: Louise Dreier
Content Strategy Director: Paul Vogel
Senior Design Content Writer: Jeremy Zerbe
Performance Writer: Rob Mellinger
Design Director: Mark Yoon
Senior Designer: Kathryn Brylinsky
Designer: Allison Lee
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Associate Director of Film Production (All Films): Ruben Mercadal
Executive Producer, Film (Breathe + Magic Hour): Gulshan Jaffery
Senior Producer, Film (Night Trails): Liliana Vega
Senior Producer, Film (Magic Hour): Jeremy Fox
Producer, Film (Magic Hour): Forrest Holt
Producer, Film (Product Films): Kelly Appleton
Co-Director of Interactive Production & Integration Lead: Tasha Cronin
Producer, Interactive Colin Neff
Producer, Interactive: Aaron Matys
Associate Producer, Interactive: Michelle Levitch
Associate Producer, Interactive: Lauren Williams
Director of Print + Fabrication Services: Rob Lugo
Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis
Associate Director of Art Production: Bianca Escobar
Senior Art Producer: Heather Black
Associate Director of Print + Fabrication Services: Riely Clough
Executive Producer, Producer, Print: Alyssa Dolman
Senior Producer, Print: Rose Mahan
Junior Producer, Print: Abe Nowels
Music Supervisor: Mike Ladman
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Whitney Vose
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy: New Business: Will Davie
Strategy Director: Grant Flannery
Senior Strategist: Claudia Vitarelli
Head of Communications Strategy: Dean Challis
Communications Strategy Director: Kathryn Ruocco
Communications Strategist: Clark Cofer
Junior Communications Strategist: Soheyla Escher
Chief Intelligence Officer: Amy Avery
Group Data Strategy Director: Christina Fieni
Data Strategy Director: Tradd Salvo
Data Strategist: Greg Berard
Junior Data Strategist: Shelby Lance
Group Account Director: Julia Albu
Group Account Director: Mike Tooley
Account Director: Cara Roberts
Account Supervisor: Chelsea Elliott
Account Supervisor: Tim Leathart
Account Manager: Hayley Howell
Associate Account Manager: Lindsay Squires
Senior Project Manager: Hillary Jordan
Senior Project Manager: Stephanie Liu
Jr. Project Manager: Amanda Cohen

Client: Harley Davidson

Production Company (Breathe): Smuggler
Director: Jaron Albertin
DOP: Mattias Königswieser
Executive Producers: Allison Kunzman, Patrick Milling Smith
Producer: Nick Fewtrell
Service Production Company (Breathe): Unit and Sofa, Prague
(Night Trails)
DOP: Adam Arkapaw
Producer: Joey Zadwarny
Production Company (Magic Hour): Epoch Films
Director: Elena Petitti di Roreto
Executive Producer: Melissa Culligan
Producer: Ritu Paramesh
Production Company (Product Films): Venture Visuals
Director: Ryan Espinosa
Executive Producer: Thomas Kranzle
Editorial (Breathe): Cut and Run NY
Editor: Jonnie Scarlett
Executive Producer: Ellese Shell
Editorial (Magic Hour): Exile Editing
Editor: Robert Lopuski
Executive Producer: Sasha Hirschfeld
Editorial (Night Trails): Work Editorial
Editor: Rich Orrick
Executive Producer: Erica Thompson
Editorial (Product Films): Second Child
Editor: Matt Badger
Executive Producer: Scott Chin
Post Production (Breathe, Night Trails, Magic Hour): The Mill
Executive Producer: Andrew Somerville
Telecine (Magic Hour + Breathe): Damien Van Der Cruyssen
Telecine (Company 3 – Night Trails): Tom Poole
Creative Director: Gavin Wellsman
Postproduction (Product Films): Second Child
Color / VFX: Second Child
Music & Sound Design (Breathe): Q Department
Creative Director: Drazen Bosnjak
Mix (Breathe): Sonic Union
Mixer: David Pappa
Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro
Mix (Night Trails, Magic Hour): Wave Studios
Mixer: Aaron Reynolds
Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro
Junior Producer: Eleni Giannopoulos
Music & Sound Design (Product Films): Second Child
Mix / Sound Design: Jesse Peterson
Production Company: Second Child
Managing Director: Scott Chinn
Senior Retoucher: Natasha Kaser
Senior Retoucher: Mike Vorrasi
Senior Retoucher: John Clendenen
Graphics Studio Manager: Virginia Vargas
Producer, Retouching: Michael Mockler
Producer, Graphics: Nereida Valles
Senior Editor: Matthew Badger
Editor: Victor Hermosillo
Design Director: Pravin Chottera
Assistant Editor: Simone Maurice
Assistant Editor: Martin Keating
Senior Post Producer: Sara Mills
Production Company: Crawford & Co
Photographer: Alex De Mora
Production Company: Jake Mills Production
Photographer: Christian Weber
Photographer: Magdalena Wosinska
Photographer: Jack Davison

Mitch Reames is a freelance writer based in southern Oregon. A 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon school of journalism and communications, Reames covers a wide range of industry topics including creativity, agencies, brands, esports and more.
Publish date: February 14, 2020 https://stage.adweek.com/creativity/droga5-brings-surreal-artistry-to-harley-davidsons-enduring-promise-of-escape/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT