Long ago in another millennium, as Harley dealerships came to resemble the gift shops of Gatlinburg, crusty old bikers complained that the whole biker counterculture had become a “fashion show.” The grey beards were startled by the transformation of things people believed, felt, thought, loved and did into a pile of consumer goods.
Way back then, 15 years ago, nobody imagined that a cable television program called Sons of Anarchy might eventually exist. Today the same crusty old bikers who were offended by Harley-Davidson chatchkas still can’t believe that a television program called The Devils Ride actually exists. If you are one of those traditionalists you should stop reading now before you get the uncontrollable urge to fix the next suit you see with a one inch box wrench.
Reader Discretion Advised
Sons of Anarchy merchandise is coming to a mall near you. The FX roman a clef inspired by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club will be selling SOA branded products in retail stores like Spencer Gifts, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney.
Sons of Anarchy is the most successful show in the brief history of FX. It averages about 5.5 million viewers each week. It was the third best selling DVD release among all television shows last year. Online sales of merchandise connected to the show have increased about 70 percent each year since 2010. “There are different audiences buying the products,” Jeffrey Godsick, President of 20th Century Fox Consumer Products, said in a press release. “They range from the show’s fan base to people who just like the counter-culture biker attitude to people who are weekend bikers.”
“It was a unique strategy,” Godsick explains. “We started the entire consumer products program as a way to reach the fan based audience and as it grew we saw an opportunity to create products that related to the biker culture and the essence of the story. As the audience has grown, so it has continued the evolution.”
The Sons of Anarchy line will now add leather and denim jackets from Pistol Clothing, apparel and accessories from Changes, men’s clothing from Li & Fung USA, jewelry from Salesone International, headwear from Concept One, and infant clothing and swimwear from Calhoun Sportswear. Merchandise will also include barware, home décor, toy motorcycles, games, stationery, calendars, posters, stickers and a Sons of Anarchy trivia game. The items will be sold in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe including Britain.
This Fall “select” Harley dealers will begin selling Sons of Anarchy motorcycles. Bartels Harley-Davidson in Marina del Rey, California will produce 100 Limited Edition bikes. Bartels has a long association with Hollywood and with celebrities.
The newly branded bikes will be unveiled at this year’s Sturgis Rally. One of the many press releases that trumpeted this marketing blitz described Sturgis as “an event that will precede the airing of the fifth season of Sons of Anarchy, which will begin this September.”
“The rapid evolution of the Sons of Anarchy retail campaign has mirrored the show’s exploding popularity,” Godsick said. “We started this campaign in 2010 with an effective online-only campaign and are now going full throttle to connect the right retail partners with the show’s growing and passionate audience.”
Put down the box wrench.