by David Gianatasio from https://musebycl.io/
Hit the open road and ‘Breathe’
Can Harley-Davidson help you outrun the internet and escape the digital hassles of modern life for a while, even if just metaphorically? The bikers in “Breathe,” a moody, cinematic :60 from Droga5, aim to answer that question.
Zipping through a hazy urban landscape, they appear to race against the accompanying narration, delivered by a robotic voice spewing lines like, “Keep scrolling. Be generous with likes … Keep scrolling. Stay in bed. Order food. Keep scrolling… ”
This prattle reaches a panicky pitch as the riders escape the city: “Don’t go outside! Don’t leave the phone behind! Do not engage your heart, your mind … Don’t ever let yourself feel this alive!”
Once they hit the open road, surrounded by nature, with the mist burning off, the voice concludes, simply: “Breathe … ride.”
Filmed in and around Prague, “Breathe” draws inspiration from Claude Lelouch’s 1976 experimental short “C’etait un rendez-vous,” about an anonymous driver’s high-speed jaunt through Paris in the wee hours.
“There is something exhilarating about feeling yourself go that fast in a closely built European city,” Droga5 creative director Thom Glover tells Muse. “When the buildings have character, the stakes feel higher.”
Indeed, it’s a more regal, picturesque dystopia than steel-and-glass skyscrapers would convey.
Filming presented challenges, as the team strove to “recreate the feeling of what it’s actually like riding a Harley-Davidson,” Glover says. “When you want to create that effect for a car, you build a hood-mount for the camera. But part of the thrill of the bike is how it bends on the corners, and shudders, and how close you feel to the road.”
Director of photography Matthias Koenigweiser and his team “built a number of original rigs to give the impression of single ride, some of which were mounted to the bike itself, some of which were attached to a camera vehicle, with the camera operator hanging upside down, inches behind the precision rider’s back wheel at 80 mph,” Glover says.
Directed by Smuggler’s Jaron Albertin, the spot effectively delivers a compelling—if somewhat predictable—message. That’s not really a knock, by the way. Motorcycle ads almost always depict a revitalizing journey of some sort—it’s almost a given. This spot succeeds way better than most in that regard by showing a special trip well worth taking.
The same goes for its companion piece, “Magic Hour.” Helmed by Epoch Films’ Elena Petitti di Roreto, shooting took place in Los Angeles and at rugged Tejon Ranch, two hours outside the city.
In this :60, a male narrator adopts a quasi-mystical tone, stressing themes of freedom and spirits roaming free: “It’s just you and the road, and the wind and the trees, and it fills you up.”
“You’re flying, but centered—lost, but found,” the V.O. continues. “Every part of your body’s engaged. Every part of your mind is activated. Synapses firing. Dopamine oozing. It’s chemical … You feel reborn.”
“Magic Hour” lacks the tension/release dynamic of “Breathe,” but the accelerating stream of quasi-Beat brand-poetry provides fitting accompaniment to the scenic grandeur of Southern California’s highways and byways.
“Riding puts the whole world in your rearview and lets you think,” says Droga5 copywriter Dan Litzow. “So, it made sense for us to make a film that simulates that in a way. Something easy to follow, but raw and stimulating at the same time.”
In a broader sense, these commercials represent an effort by the iconic 116-year-old company to rev its image and kick-start sales following recent declines. They also mark Droga5’s first major excursion for the brand since adding the business a year ago. Both ads take somewhat unexpected routes, and should engage eyeballs as the Harleys roll.
“The audience is anyone who wants more balance in their life, but doesn’t necessarily feel totally comfortable with the ‘green juice and yoga’ definition of wellness,” Glover says. “Their takeaway should be that riding a Harley-Davidson is the perfect way to leave it all behind.”