Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Enfield Girl' was a classic of her times

Advertisements for Royal Enfield motorcycles through the decades sometimes featured pretty girls. None have been quite as unreal as the pinup called "the Enfield Girl." She is one of my favorites from the modern era. Her cartoon proportions combined with a real photo of the Café Racer kit precisely define the Royal Enfield: It is a vintage product you can buy new.

I was surprised to learn that the Enfield Girl was "discovered" at an advertising agency in Milwaukee. I asked a partner in the firm about her.

Q. I think that ad did a marvelous job of attracting the eye while also capturing what is so unique about the product. Would you introduce yourself and your agency?

A. My name is Ignacio Catral. Our agency name is Catral Doyle Creative Co. We do a variety of work including advertising, branding, environments and electronic media. We have been in business in Milwaukee, Wis. for 14 years. Some of our clients include Kohler Co., Marquette University, Derco Aerospace, and Crescent Cardboard

Q. Is there a story behind how you began working with Classic Motorworks, the U.S. importer for Royal Enfield?

A. There is actually. My partner Shawn and I were avid motorcyclists, but when we decided to quit our cushy design jobs and start our own business, we sold off our bikes to buy computer equipment. Shawn at the time rode a BMW K75RT and I rode a Honda Shadow 600. After being established for a few years, and looking to expand our client base in our geographical area, we found Classic Motorworks in a Walnecks Cycle trader ad featuring the Enfield Bullet. We were amazed that a product like that still existed in today’s marketplace.

"We sent our customary marketing materials to Classic Motorworks, trying to forge a relationship. We had a couple of conversations with the person in charge of marketing at the time with no luck. The perception was that we might be a bit too pricey, based on some of our existing clients at the time. Then it hit me: what about doing some trade for a couple of bikes and in no time we would be on two wheels again.

"I wrote a letter to the marketing guy outlining the concept. He called me back and gave the go ahead to start concepts. That was the birth of the 'Astroturf' Electric Starter ad campaign.

"Shawn and I both have 1999, kick start classic Bullets, running like champs. And we have been working with Kevin Mahoney and Classic Motorworks ever since.

Q. So you are you a motorcyclist yourself?

A. I am. I have ridden many bikes in my life; nothing compares to riding an Enfield.

Q. Where did the idea for the Enfield Girl come from?

A. The Enfield Girl came to us in the form of an old royalty-free pin-up CD. At the time, we were in charge of developing a campaign for an amazing new kit that you could bolt on to the existing Bullet and create this fantastic café racer. We had a chance to spend some time with the bike during the photo shoot and we came up with the idea of this pin-up calendar shot with the bike in it. We had the bike shot already but no budget for another shoot and the pin-up talent. In our research we found the image of this girl straddling an artist’s horse, and knew she was the one. After finding the correct shot with the correct posture we had to treat the shot of the bike to match the existing technique of the pin-up illustration.

Q. Does the Enfield Girl have a future? Or was that pretty much it for her?

A. The Enfield girl is retired now, but still collects royalties every time the ad is mentioned or shown, so she sends her thanks.

Q. Do you have a favorite ad you did for Royal Enfield?

A. We are very fortunate that Kevin gives a long rope on the creative side of things, and it lets us be playful and push the creative a lot more than with some of our other corporate clients. We try to be creative and stretch budgets so we can be side-by-side with bigger players in the industry. To keep the budget small I was one of the models along with my bike, for the 'My Bullet' campaign. I particularly like the look of the 'This is no Replica' ad, and of course the Enfield Girl will always have a place in my heart. I also like the feeling of the 'My Bullet' campaign.

Looking back over the ads Catral cites I am impressed again by how carefully crafted they are. The 2001 introduction of the electric starter was an important innovation that conceivably could detract from the "revered classic styling" of the Bullet.

The ad plays off this, asking "What's next? Astro Turf at Wimbledon?" But it's all perfectly acceptable, you see, because the Royal Enfield is "the only motorcycle to earn an enthusiastic 'high five' from the Palace Guard!"

Posing Catral as the male model in the "My Bullet" campaign doesn't in the least detract from the purpose of the campaign. His chiseled features worked well with the powerful line-up of Bullets. It's a Mount Rushmore effect -- a character study. According to Catral Doyle's web site, that purpose was "portraying what Royal Enfield motorcycles do best -- get noticed.


  1. Anonymous10/28/2008

    My question is... what is she ordering two of?


  2. really interesting stuff

  3. Anonymous7/12/2010

    I think shes asking for two more minutes at idle.


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