How Comfortable They Are Lying to You

We all know advertisers lie to us. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the Big Mac you were just handed, compare it to the one pictured on the menu, and realize something’s just not right. We also know women on magazine covers are endlessly Photoshopped to match them to some impossible vision of beauty.

But sometimes it’s the subtle things that stand out. Take, for example, this Harley-Davidson brochure I received in the mail the other day, advertising their new Blackline bike:

What’s wrong with this picture?

My first thought was They’re making a bike with pipes on the left? That can’t be right…

Then I noticed he’s riding on the wrong side of the road (I’m assuming he’s riding here in the States). Could they have mirrored the image? I looked closer at the tank, and sure enough, the text is mirrored. Some designer in marketing must have taken the original picture and flipped it to match the layout of his ad.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, for starters, you’re looking at the bike backwards. If you go to a dealership, do you look at the bikes’ reflections in the windows, or do you go look at the bikes?

But what really bothers me is they had to do it at all. Was there not a photo that matched the layout? If this is the best photo, should the designer not have just changed his layout? It’s like he said “Ah, nobody will notice” and clicked the button. Obviously he’s not a rider himself.

I also wonder who, if anyone, on the H-D side approved it. Surely the people in charge of marketing at H-D are familiar enough with their product they should have noticed something like this, even if they’re not riders. Or do they just let the ad designers fire things off without proofing?

Yeah, it’s a small thing, but that’s why it bothers me so much. I understand they’re going to tweak lighting, clean up blemishes, maybe even add gleam to chrome and make their bikes look great. Usually it’s not in your face. This is just a blatant, lazy edit that shouldn’t have gotten beyond the proofing stage.

And would it have killed them to put a much-needed comma in the headline? They have a period at the end, so can’t be a conscious decision to drop punctuation marks.

This is the kind of thing you expect in a poster advertising the three-man custom shop down the street, not a world-famous manufacturer.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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