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Pfaff Harley-Davidson
"Tough Turban"
Zulu Alpha Kilo

CASE SUMMARY

Harley-Davidson is a brand built on a love for the open road, and its riders are passionate for the freedom it offers. The Harley-Davidson brand attracts riders of all cultures, yet it is often characterised as the choice of older white men. Pfaff Harley-Davidson is located in the Greater Toronto Area – the most culturally diverse city in the world – and home to the second largest population of Sikhs outside of India.

For Sikh riders, the freedom of the road used to come at either the expense of their safety or their faith.

The turban is a deeply important part of Sikh identity. And for decades, Sikh men who rode motorcycles found themselves choosing between their beliefs and their safety, as they are required to cover their hair as a symbol of respect and humility.

Because traditional motorcycle helmets violate this religious tenet, the Ontario government passed legislation in 2018 exempting Sikhs from the law requiring all motorcycle riders to wear protective helmets. This was a hard-won step forward, but also introduced a critical question: How could Sikh riders engage in their passion and still ensure their safety while riding without a traditional helmet?

This created an unusual challenge: how to develop an alternative to a motorcycle helmet that would mean Sikh motorcyclists would no longer have to choose between their beliefs and their safety?

This challenge required cultural exploration. For one of the agency’s associate creative directors, who is of Sikh heritage, the revised Ontario helmet law was deeply meaningful. His father had grown up in India, where there are more motorcycles and scooters than cars. He had always dreamed of owning a Harley-Davidson, and years after emigrating to Canada, his dream came true.

Given the religious sensitivities, in-person meetings and consultations were determined to be the most appropriate approach. Research took the form of conversations with Sikh motorcycle riders, all of whom were very familiar with the tension between religious observation and personal safety. The conversations yielded an unexpected discovery. It turns out that in ancient times, Sikh warriors protected their heads from enemy blows by inserting a layer of chain mail in the fabric of their turbans before battle. This established there was a strong historical precedent for turning turbans into a piece of body armour without violating religious tenets.

The research confirmed the possibility of a solution, and also inspired the insight driving the initiative: with the right motorcycle gear, Sikh riders could protect who they are. Tough Turban marries ancient traditions and modern, high-tech engineering. It’s a turban made of impact-resistant materials that
fully respects the Sikh faith.

Armed with a powerful concept, early prototyping was done with an industrial design firm with experience in 3D printing and composite fabrics used in bulletproof clothing. After a series of prototypes, a final design was developed. About half the fabric is normal turban material, but the outer layers include Dyneema, a 3D-printed carbon fibre take on chain mail, and non-Newtonian foam, which is normally pliable but hardens instantly on impact. These are the elements that make it a tougher turban.

With the design complete, communications were needed to spread the word. A website was the anchor of the effort. It housed a video that profiled Sikh riders discussing the need the Tough Turban addressed and highlighted how the turban was engineered. Along with the video, open-sourced production files for the turban were published to enable manufacturers anywhere in the world to produce the turbans in their own markets. PR supported the initiative, including posts across all Pfaff Harley-Davidson’s social channels.

Media response was significant, with coverage in 171 U.S. media outlets, 54 in Canada, 18 in the UK and 11 in India, totalling 238.8 million earned impressions and an advertising value of $2.19 million.

Quantitative research with people who own or are planning to buy a motorcycle showed a significant shift in perception after they’d been exposed to the initiative: 87% saw Harley-Davidson as more favourable, 86% saw Harley-Davidson as more innovative, 83% saw Harley-Davidson as more inclusive, and 85% were more likely to consider buying a Harley-Davidson.

Tough Turban’s open-source schematics have been downloaded over 2,300 times. Three manufacturers are exploring large-scale production, including the world’s largest producer of two-wheeled motorized vehicles. According to The Times of India, UK's Sikh Federation was so inspired by Tough Turban that they have asked their government to re-examine Britain’s turban laws. The potential to save lives is enormous. It could offer protection to millions of Sikh motorcyclists globally.

Credits

Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Chief Creative Officer: Zak Mroueh
Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
Head of Design: Stephanie Yung
ACD Art Director: Vic Bath
ACD Writer: Dan Cummings
Designer: Jeff Watkins
Agency Producer: Laura Dubcovsky, Kathryn Brown
Account Team: Rob Feightner, Matt Sinuita, David Tremblay,
Karla Ramirez, Allison Diaz Mercado
Strategy Team: Spencer MacEachern, Shaunagh Farrelly
Client: Pfaff Harley-Davidson
Client: Brandon Durmann, Melanie Somerville
Product Design: Sparks Innovation
Production House: Zulubot
Executive Producer: Tom Evans
Line Producer: Colleen Allen
Director: Barbara Shearer
DOP James Arthurs
Editor: Jessie Posthumus
Motion Graphics: Ashlee Mitchell
Illustrator: Nabil Elsaadi, Rasna Jaswal
Audio Engineer: Dino Cuzzolino
Web Design: Jacqui Lau, Kesia Payne
Photographers: The Moto Foto | Dan Lim. Raina + Wilson | Fuze Reps.
Online Artist: Felipe Chaparro
Head of Production: Adam Palmer
For registration inquiries, contact Alisha Tabilin at 1-416-408-2300 x282 or atabilin@brunico.com.