The Brand Council case studies: Ducati
Originally published in 'Cool BrandLeaders', August 2002. The book reviews the UK's strongest cool brands as judged by the independent Brand Council Judges.
Case study provided by The Brand Council.
Ducati motorcycles are the most coveted in the world, due to the brand's racetrack heritage, Italian design, state-of-the-art engineering and victories in the World Superbike Championship. The Ducati range now includes four families: Superbike, Supersport, Monster and SportTouring.
The Ducati family founded a company in 1926 making radio components with other Bolognese investors. By the 1940s they commanded a global business from a sprawling factory complex, which was destroyed during World War II. But Ducati rose from the ashes in a different guise, making small auxiliary motors for bicycles, then motorcycles. When pioneering engineer Fabio Taglioni arrived in 1954, the company moved into high gear. A highlight of this period was the introduction of the 'desmo' valve gear -- which has been a feature of Ducati bikes ever since.
The 1980s and early 1990s saw Ducati reach new heights launching the legendary Ducati Monster, and the luscious Supermono.
In 1994 one of the most significant motorcycles in Ducati's history was created -- the 916.Winning numerous awards not only in motorcycling and also the design and art world too, the 916 is a timeless classic. The 916 evolved into the 996 and now 998 and soon proved its racing pedigree by winning numerous national Superbike Championships around the world. Nine World Superbike riders titles and ten Constructors titles mean Ducati is the most successful manufacturer ever.
In the late 1990s Ducati launched the Monster Dark, which became the best-selling motorcycle in Italy. Ducati then began to expand into accessories and clothing. The creation of standalone Ducati stores then commenced.
Through advertising and public relations, the company has created a sense of community among fans and owners of the bikes -- a group they labelled 'the Ducatisti'. This was underlined in 1998 with the first World Ducati Weekend, held in Italy. This event has since grown and the third event took place in June 2002. The Ducati website has also been developed to aid 'the Ducatisti' to keep in touch, as well as to attract new followers.
In 1998 the Ducati Desmo Owners Club was created. Run from Bologna, the club is an umbrella organisation for independent Ducati clubs around the world, allowing enthusiasts an opportunity to communicate with other Ducatisti.
Another mark of the brand's success came in 1999 when the company was listed on the New York and Milan stock exchanges.
Movie directors clamour to put the machines in their films, hoping that the bikes' savage elegance will rub off on their stars. Recently Wesley Snipes rode an ST2 in 'Blade II' and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos rode a red Ducati Monster in the bone-crunching motorbike duel flick 'Rollerball'.
Keen to get involved with co-marketing activities, Ducati launched a clothing range with DKNY which saw the brand name appear in distinguished fashion stores around the world. As well as clothing co-marketing, Ducati have also had associations with MAC cosmetics, Harrods and Roberto Cavalli.
Ducati is forward thinking in terms of product design and marketing. In 2000, the MH900e became the first motorcycle to be reserved by customers exclusively over the internet.
Ducati's community approach culminated in the launch of a new print advertising campaign, developing the brands 'Ducati People' theme. Via its website, the company encouraged owners of Ducati's to submit photographs of themselves and descriptions of their lifestyles. Out of thousands of submissions, Ducati picked 26 owners to be flown to Bologna and professionally photographed. The portraits show some seriously cool people, on some of Ducati's most awesome machines.
© 2002 The Brand Council
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