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New branding, no more ‘Buggies’ for Bad Boy

By Liz Keener

Side-by-side/ATV brand unveils new name, logo

When Bad Boy Off Road revealed its new Stampede 900 4x4 side-by-side in May, the company not only had a new vehicle to showcase, but the brand also launched a new name, logo and website at the same time.

“We really felt like we needed an element of ‘shock and awe,’ so we could really create buzz with not just a product, but a brand and a new mark and advertising. And we could open some eyes, from consumers to dealers, around our products,” said John Collins, vice president of Consumer for Textron Specialized Vehicles, the Textron division that includes Bad Boy.

When Textron acquired Bad Boy Buggies in 2010, the intent was to expand the company’s presence into the ORV market. Textron had begun exploring off-road with E-Z-GO, but the golf car brand was not appropriate for the recreational off-road market.

The Stampede 900 4x4, released May 1, is Bad Boy Off Road’s first gas-powered side-by-side.

The Stampede 900 4x4, released May 1, is Bad Boy Off Road’s first gas-powered side-by-side.

“When we acquired Bad Boy, we had a desire to participate in the recreational outdoor space, powersports specifically, for a long time,” Collins said. “That space that was a little more rugged and aggressive than the brand that we had, so that’s what led to the acquisition of Bad Boy Buggies.”

Though Bad Boy had already established itself as a player in the hunting market with electric side-by-sides, that market is limited, and Textron wanted to reach even more customers.

“As we’ve invested in it, it’s very much a hunting brand. It doesn’t speak to the enthusiast, that recreational buyer, the farmer the way we want it to. It’s very good for hunting, but it doesn’t speak to those other buyer demographics. As we thought about that and thought about how we would plan to grow this business, it was apparent to us that we needed to drop the ‘Buggies’ for one,” Collins explained. “This is a grown-up product, a grown-up industry, and ‘Buggies’ just came across a little too cutesy, I guess, for what we wanted to achieve, and Bad Boy Off Road is really more of what we want to be, what we are investing in.”

New name, new logo

The Bad Boy Off Road name was revealed when the Stampede was introduced. Bad Boy also revealed its new logo, known as the Bird of Prey, which features two inward facing Bs connected to look like wings of a bird.

“When we went out and did market surveys and focus groups, the customers that were those rec customers, farmers, agriculture buyers — they looked at it and said, ‘That is an awesome look. I can get my arms around it. It’s something I’d like to participate in. It’s something I’d want to be associated with,’” Collins said about the logo.

1116ATV-Bad Boy LogoBad Boy added Off Road to the end of its name in an effort to better establish itself in the ORV market, though Collins said the name doesn’t mean Bad Boy will remain only in the off-road segment. The goal is to create a mark and a logo that people will associate with the off-road lifestyle.

“Bad Boy is very much a product, technology-driven company, but at the same time, it’s a lifestyle brand, and we understand that our brand has to evoke the lifestyle of the guy that we want to sell to. I would say it’s a technology company that makes fantastic products, but has a brand that participates in the lifestyle and understands the lifestyle of the buyer,” Collins said.

He added that all the products in the current three-to-five-year pipeline are off-road vehicles.

“We absolutely intend to be a player and to be a name and a brand that is recognized in that off-road recreational space, so I think telling people it’s Bad Boy Off Road — at least at this point in our history — is very important,” Collins said.

Full investment

Though all of these elements were revealed at one time, Collins explained that they had been in thoughtful development for a long time. The Stampede — and other vehicles yet to be revealed — had been in the works for years, and development of the new name, logo and website took 12-18 months to complete.

Textron has not only invested in these elements, but in manufacturing as well. The company built a new 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility adjacent to its current Textron Specialized Vehicles headquarters in Augusta, Georgia, for producing Bad Boy vehicles.

John Collins

John Collins

“We’ve been in Augusta since 1954. We’re very proud of our roots here. Augusta’s home to us, and we’re very proud to be able to stand up a new facility ,basically doubling our footprint. That brings our total footprint to about 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing space here,” Collins said.

He added, “When you look at us, and you look at other brands, we’re making investments right here in the good old U.S. of A. And that’s what we are, we’re a U.S. company making the investments here, building our products here. You see the branding piece and the product piece, but you have to back this with good manufacturing and good service, and we’re doing that here in the new manufacturing facility here in Augusta.”

Bad Boy is also investing in media coverage and advertising. With the Stampede being its first vehicle that was purposefully developed to reach recreational, ag and farm consumers, Bad Boy has some ground to make up in name recognition with those groups.

To that end, Bad Boy hosted three separate media events in the lead-up to the Stampede release, each catering to consumer editors in their respective markets — recreational, farming/ag and hunting.

“We’ve had a pretty steady flurry of articles that have come out reviewing the Stampede, all very favorable, and obviously we’re doing some advertising in those trusted publications as well,” Collins said.

The media buy includes single page and spread advertisements in a variety of consumer publications. The brand has also purchased TV spots around weather forecasts and channels for farmers, hunting and outdoors programming for that group and on ESPN and other sports shows and channels for the recreational demographic. Each print, digital and TV ad will be catered to the audience that Bad Boy is trying to reach through each specific medium.

Warren Johnson

Warren Johnson

“You’ll never see a recreational ad featuring a vehicle towing a trailer for ag or farm purposes. It’s authentic. We speak to that consumer, so it’s out in Moab; it’s out really using that vehicle how they normally would,” explained Warren Johnson, director of Market & Strategy, Consumer. “Same thing with hunting; you won’t find a hunting ad in a rec publication. Vice versa, you won’t find a rec ad in a hunting publication, so we want to speak authentically to that audience.”

Bad Boy is also being thoughtful with its in-person demo activities. Ride & Drives are planned throughout the riding season in various locations across the U.S.

The first, which was Memorial Day weekend at Durhamtown in Union Park, Georgia, went well.

“It was a good learning experience for us, very successful. We had a good amount of traffic come over,” Johnson reported.

Demo riders were arriving in their own side-by-sides, ATVs and motorcycles and jumping into the Stampede to get a feel of the newest Bad Boy model.

“When we go out to our events, we bring the right-sized presentation, so it’s not just a couple E-Z UPs and some vehicles. We’ve got a whole tractor-trailer out there, a full awning, a real immersive experience,” Johnson said. “When you take a look at what we’re doing from our demo event perspective, we look like a much bigger brand. I want people to see our product and say, ‘Wow, these guys are legit. This guys are the real deal.’ And we are. We’re making those investments. So customers will be comfortable around our product as a brand.”

Bad Boy is also boosting its marketing with a social media push. Through relevant posts, sponsored ads and special giveaways, Bad Boy Off Road has driven its Facebook page past 48,000 likes and its Twitter page over 14,000 likes.

A recent social media campaign focused on Mud Day June 29. With giveaways for those who shared their muddy riding photos from June 29-July 3, Bad Boy gained likes, followers and engagement. Shared posts by Realtree and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart boosted the brand’s efforts.

Bad Boy introduced its first ATV, the Onslaught, earlier this year.

Bad Boy introduced its first ATV, the Onslaught, earlier this year.

“It’s fun for us as a brand to connect with that consumer authentically, so Mud Day, that’s not a national holiday, but you have people that like to do the things that they do. And those with side-by-sides, they know what this day is, and it’s a fun day,” Johnson said. “It’s about getting outdoors, so we’re resonating with those consumers.”

Bad Boy has also developed sponsorship and promotional partnerships with NASCAR, The Off-Road Championships (TORC) and Bass Pro Shops, and the staff is looking into other such opportunities to better position the brand to reach new customers.

“We’re going to do all of this by taking a customer- and consumer-first attitude with everything,” Johnson said. “We’re very contentious of taking care of our customers, so that’s our dealers and our ultimate person that buys our vehicle. It’s very, very important part of our long-term strategy for success.”

Looking forward

Now that the new Bad Boy Off Road has been unleashed, the brand is learning more about what their dealers and customers like and want. At the late April dealer meeting, dealers responded to the release positively.

“We wrote about three times as many orders as we went in expecting, and the response from dealers was overwhelming. And it wasn’t just orders for vehicles — obviously orders for vehicles were very good — but it was orders for our vehicles, accessories and apparel,” Collins said.

As the new logo was unveiled, Bad Boy was ready with men’s and women’s T-shirts and baseball hats. That product drew excitement from dealers.

“We believe that people, they like the idea of ‘I’m a little on the edge; I’m unpredictable,’ and that’s what the Bad Boy Off Road brand does. So whether it’s getting them in a vehicle, or getting them in a shirt with our logo on it, we believe that our dealers are going to be able to do that, so the dealer response has been very, very good,” Collins said.

Bad Boy showcased its latest models to the recreation media earlier this year in Moab, Utah.

Bad Boy showcased its latest models to the recreation media earlier this year in Moab, Utah.

Non-Bad Boy dealers have also grown interested in the brand’s new direction, and the phone has been ringing off the hook with inquiries.

“We feel very confident in what we’ve achieved thus far, and I think one of the keys to all of this is how aggressively we’re going out and getting new dealers,” Johnson said. Bad Boy currently has about 300 dealerships, including Bass Pro Shops locations, but the brand is looking to expand its network.

Only a few months after the initial Stampede release, consumers are just getting to know the brand, but the Bad Boy staff is happy with what they’ve heard so far.

“The consumer response — we’re just feeling it. Our dealers are loaded in now. They’ve got product on the floor. I’ll tell you we’re retailing product out,” Collins reported.

He added, “We think that we’ll exceed their expectations, but we have to have them go into the showroom and know something about our product and know something about our brand, and when they’re in the showroom, get excited about the purchase.”

Bad Boy has built up momentum this spring and summer, and the brand plans to keep the news flowing in the coming months and years. This October, Bad Boy will be releasing a four-seat Stampede called the Stampede XTR, or “extra.” Other products are also in the works, with a new model release planned for the spring.

In addition to development occurring in Augusta, Bad Boy is also working with Textron-owned MillenWorks on new models.

“You can expect us to be very aggressive in product develop and be very aggressive in new product offerings,” Collins said. “And you can expect us to be very aggressive in how we position our brand.”

 

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