Harnessing the Headline

If you think a headline doesn’t change anything, consider this pair.  After some Hells Angels, hired as security for a free Rolling Stones concert, stabbed a concertgoer to death at Altamont, Honda (then selling mostly motorcycles) saw an opportunity.  Figuring that Hells Angels = Harleys for many consumers, Honda rolled out this headline: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”   Honda’s sales surged, while Harley’s shrank.  Years later, with Altamont a much dimmer memory, Harley rolled one of its own.  Accompanied by a picture of a bicep adorned with a Harley tattoo, it read, “When is the last time you felt this passionately about anything?”  And the sales curves traded places.  Never underestimate the power of language.  How’s yours?