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BRP’s ATV line receives a new name with a history – May 15, 2006

May 15, 2006
Filed under Features

There’s a new name in the ATV market, though to experienced dealers, it isn’t new at all.
On May 6, the name of the entire line of ATVs from Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) was changed to Can-Am — a move that brought back a name made famous by a brand of off-road motorcycles in the 1970s and early 1980s and eliminates the Bombardier nameplate from BRP’s quads.
To help push the new name, BRP is introducing an 800 Renegade sport quad and two 500-class Outlander models, and is bringing back multiple versions of its 400, 650 and 800 Outlanders, its DS650, 250, 90 and 50 and its Rally. The company also hinted at a coming 450 race quad entry.
In an exclusive interview with Powersports Business, BRP President Jose Boisjoli reiterated a longstanding theme at the company, saying, “In our business, the product is king.” But the name change was needed to continue BRP’s growth with performance riders, particularly in the United States, he said.
Bringing Back Can-Am
What’s in a name?
The folks at BRP asked themselves that question a couple of years ago about their Bombardier ATV line, and they didn’t like the answer they were getting, particularly in the United States.
Many folks mispronounced the name (instead of “bom-bar-dee-eh” it was “bom-ba-deer” to many), others started to confuse the brand name with BRP’s former parent company, from which it gained independence in 2003. Mostly, the name didn’t sound performance-oriented, Boisjoli said, and performance is the primary image that BRP is trying to sell with its refocused product line.
“We made a choice in 2003 that we would not be No. 1 in the ATV business, but that we would target to be No. 1 with the enthusiast rider,” Boisjoli said. “The Outlander 800, 650 and now the Renegade 800 and Outlander 500 are a reflection of that.”
While the product reflected a new performance image, the brand name did not. “The brand name is one of the elements we weren’t happy with,” Boisjoli explained. “We started to think, ‘What could be the name that would support our new product orientation?’”
Several names were bantered about, but the name the team at BRP kept coming back to was one it already owned — Can-Am.
Can-Am was a motorcycle brand that Bombardier launched in the early 1970s. The first prototype Can-Am bikes started appearing at races in remote locations in 1972. Two years later, the upstart brand was sweeping podiums, setting land speed records and generally giving the existing brands of off-road bikes fits.
BRP wants to relive that experience with its ATVs.
“If you talk to people about Can-Am, they talk about power, lightweight, best handling, they talk about performance,” Boisjoli said.
Seeing The New Name
The folks at BRP knew that switching a brand name wouldn’t be a small project, but the scope of the project didn’t become clear to many until a changeover team at the company started making lists of items that would need the new brand name.
The trucks will need to be repainted. Dealers will need new signs. Obviously, new letterhead was needed for the team of full-time employees, along with new business cards, shirts, hats, jackets, etc. Then there are all of the product-related items — from warranty cards and owners’ manuals to the crates the quads are shipped in. The company will need to create new point-of-purchase displays and hang tags, and a new Web site.
Those are just some of the obvious items — there are 288 more items, 300 in all, that need new logos with the Can-Am name, according to BRP insiders. This is about a lot more than changing stickers on quads, said Pierre Pichette, BRP’s vice president of communications and public affairs.
“Everything in our PAC [parts, accessory, clothing] business, everything we do at an international level, we have had a team that has been working on this for several months in strict coordination,” Pichette said. “There are a few items that we’ll be doing progressively, but we’re very confident that when the [launch] date comes on May 6, we’ll be ready to offer the network just about everything they need.”
Boisjoli offered an example.
“Everything touching the product, including the owners’ manuals and brochures, will become Can-Am on May 6. But the crate packaging that the dealer throws away when he receives the ATV will probably change in a couple of months,” he said.
BRP will be paying for new Can-Am signs at dealerships, Boisjoli said.
Part Of The Plan
Boisjoli wanted to make clear that the new name is directly tied to the focus BRP has on the ATV performance market.
“We are very, very committed to the [ATV] business,” Boisjoli said. “After we started in that business in 1998, to be honest, it was more difficult than what we had planned.”
In 2003, the company very purposefully re-aligned itself to focus on performance, much like it does in snowmobiles with Ski-Doo and in the water with Sea-Doo PWC and sport boats, he said.
The V-twin-powered quads in the last year are a reflection of this, as is the impending release of a 450-class sport quad, he said.
“There is more to come, supporting this new orientation,” he hinted. “We will surprise you shortly.”
Does that mean he would tell us anything on the 450? Timing of the launch? Quad specs? Any details?
“No,” Boisjoli answered sternly, before laughing, “and I think you already knew that answer!” psb

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