Marketing has always played a crucial role in a brand’s success. In the world of motorbikes, KTM is a household name, known for its durable and high-performance machines. However, even the most established brands can make mistakes, and KTM’s decision not to give motorbikes to Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman for their documentary series, ‘The Long Way Round,’ turned out to be one of the biggest marketing blunders in recent history.
Background: The Long Way Round
The Long Way Round is a British television documentary series that aired in 2004. It chronicled the journey of actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they embarked on a motorcycle trip around the world. The series showcased the two riders’ adventures, challenges, and camaraderie, captivating audiences and motorbike enthusiasts alike.
The KTM Blunder
Before embarking on their journey, McGregor and Boorman approached KTM to request motorcycles for their expedition. However, KTM, concerned about the potential risks and negative publicity if the riders experienced difficulties on their trip, declined the offer. This decision proved to be a significant marketing blunder, as it would have provided KTM with a golden opportunity for brand exposure.
Following KTM’s rejection, the duo approached BMW and secured R1150GS Adventure motorcycles for their trip. The series turned out to be a massive success, with millions of viewers watching their adventures. The visibility that BMW gained from this partnership was unprecedented, and the brand’s association with the spirit of adventure, resilience, and camaraderie resonated with motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide.
Long-Term Impact on KTM
KTM’s decision not to partner with McGregor and Boorman had several long-lasting consequences:
- Lost Marketing Opportunity: KTM missed out on a unique, cost-effective marketing platform that showcased their bikes’ capabilities and durability in a real-world setting. The publicity BMW received from this collaboration was worth millions in marketing dollars.
- Loss of Potential Sales: The success of The Long Way Round led to a surge in demand for BMW’s adventure motorcycles. Had KTM participated, they could have similarly experienced a significant increase in sales.
- Brand Perception: KTM’s refusal to support the expedition may have created a perception that their motorcycles were not up to the challenge, while BMW’s bikes were portrayed as rugged, reliable, and adventure-ready.
- Missed Opportunity for Long-Term Loyalty: The positive association between BMW and the series has continued to strengthen the brand’s image and create long-term loyalty among motorcycle enthusiasts.
KTM’s decision to pass on providing motorcycles for The Long Way Round documentary serves as a cautionary tale for brands. It highlights the importance of recognizing and seizing unique marketing opportunities that can generate massive, long-lasting exposure. KTM’s blunder allowed BMW to step in and reap the rewards, leaving KTM to ponder what could have been.