Zidane, McBride, Larsson reject Fire offers

Eager to mimic the Galaxy’s Beckham coup, the Chicago Fire have been turned down by two aging European superstars and the pride of Arlington Heights, IL. The team vowed to instead find a highly-rated hispanic or polish player to appeal to their core fans. The only thing more embarassing than signing Zidane is being rejected by Zidane. Why do I get the feeling this will end with Teddy Sheringham being dragged out of retirement? Sigh. (Thanks, Andrew.)

L-Series site update

The Scoop points out that CMSI’s “L-Series” Website has been updated. Not much, mind you, they’ve added a posterized photo and a couple press releases, but it’s a start. POC Phil insists the new “L-Series” is the same prototype they’ve been showing off for years, with some minor cosmetic changes, and even CMSI’s Seattle neighbors Microsoft have never stalled a release this long, but Lambretta fans remain hopeful, and we look forward to the chance to talk to CMSI at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo.

MP3 marketing, and good news

Just as I was about to post a contest to unofficially name the Piaggio MP3 for the American market, POC Phil posted a comment to the last post that shed some light on the MP3 marketing story:

We received our packet on the MP3 yesterday.
UP – They include a 2 minute DVD
Down – They visually compare the MP3 to several wild animals, Guh-hay.
UP – They actually show it doing a respectable stoppie.
Down – They are OFFICIALLY calling it the MP3.
Up – They’re putting a lot of energy into this launch.
Down – They won’t be available at your local dealership until mid/late March.
Up – They originally told us $7299 – They’ve dropped it to $6999
Down – The few MP3’s already here are being loaned around to press gigs, motorcycle shows etc. Not scooter rallies…yet.
Up – I am personally buying one and I will be riding it to everything.
Down – 3 times the chance of picking up a nail.
Up – Givi already makes a windshield for it…can the saddlebags and trailer be far behind?

So it will be called the MP3, a sorta-cruddy name, but at least consistent worldwide. The news that it will be less expensive than originally thought is certainly good, and perhaps the marketing campaign will be substantial and impressive. Good news, Phil, thanks. Phil (in another thread) also reiterates our argument that the extra wheel is there for better handling, not for balance:

Regarding the Mp3 article….�the scooter that won’t topple over�… I LOVE IT… it’s exactly these type of ads that will keep me in the clover fixing damaged MP3s. Yes, it will topple over, quite easily in fact. Just forget to press the yellow button and your ass is going down, and it’s a lot harder/heavier to deal with.

Exactly. It’s less likely to fishtail or flip at speed, but that extra wheel isn’t going to help you balance the bike or stop at a light without putting your feet down. I guess parking would be easier (locking the wheels while it’s upright, rather than pushing it onto a centerstand), but it’s not a tricycle. Which is a good thing.

MP3 marketing plan, or lack thereof

Marketing trade magazine MediaPost writes about Piaggio’s marketing plan for the MP3 in the U.S.:

Paolo Timoni, president and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, … said the bike/trike targets urban and suburban commuters worried about global warming, gasoline prices and gridlock.
The approach isn’t new to Piaggio sibling Vespa, which has for the past two years been trumpeting its scooters as green machines in urban centers through mass transit poster ads promoting the iconic two-wheelers as gasoline and time savers in U.S. cities.
Timoni said that the company ran a study prior to launching MP3, based on a hypothetical situation in which 20% of car volume in New York City was replaced by scooters. “We learned that each of those drivers would save ten days a year,” he said.
Marketing for the vehicle will launch this spring when Piaggio runs a national road show taking the three-wheeled vehicle to cities, and a national open house at dealerships, talking up the environmental friendliness, savings and practicality of the vehicle. “We will run a traditional print push later in the year,” Timoni said.

So basically nothing new, he’s rehashing the Vespanomics/Vespetition screed. It’s a reasonable tactic on one hand, but there are very good arguments both for and against scooters in those regards. In any case, gas prices appear to be coming down, and the fickle American public will (sadly) soon hop off the environmental bandwagon, so their economy-based message may turn out to be just as futile as their luxury-based attempt. (Remember a few years ago when Vespa scooters were luxurious?)

Timoni also glosses over the fact that, publicly anyway, the MP3 doesn’t even have a name in America. Pre-launch marketing seems a waste of time when they can’t even connect it to the actual branding of the product. There’s a good buzz going on the MP3 now, but will that translate to brand recognition when it finally appears? (Wasn’t that supposed to be in December?) “MP3” was a horrible naming choice in the first place by the Italians, but does it make sense to leave it nameless until a week before it hits showroom floors? If so, why hype it at all, until then? And has anyone seen the cited Vespa “mass transit poster ads” in the U.S., let alone print advertising outside scooter publications? Sure, there’s been local, dealer-driven print advertising, but not much else.

I hope the MP3 (I feel dumb even calling it that, maybe I should go back to “X3“?) is the second coming of scooters in America. I hope Piaggio has a great name and a big, impressive, national media blast ready to go, and that bikes and spares flood into (and out of) dealer showrooms without a hitch. I hope Piaggio makes me regret my lack of faith in their marketing department. The MP3 is a truly original and exciting scooter, with merits well beyond the economic, environmental, and newbie-friendliness, and I hope Piaggio makes the most of this opportunity.

In the News, January 22, 2007

Kyle visits SIP

That's a mighty load of cylinder kits

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably the type of person that happily gives up a day of your European vacation to hunt down the local scooter shops. Chicago scooterist Kyle Hart is too, but he was lucky enough to visit Augsburg, Germany, where the “local shop” is S.I.P.. Instead of the usual modern Piaggio dealer who hasn’t seen a GS in twenty years, or repairman’s shed full of rotting scooter corpses, S.I.P. is a huge, modern shop catering to an international crowd of vintage and modern scooter racers and customizers, and judging by Kyle’s great photos, it’s an exciting place to visit.

17 girls, 17 scooters, 12 months

debs07.jpgI’m not sure where the extra five girls ended up (Smarch?), but The Debutantes Scooter Club calendar is back for its second year of 11×17″ cheesecake, featuring our favorite Deb, POC Michelle, as Miss November. They’re available now, $15 online or $12 in person, with 10% going to ScooterRelief.org, which (crap!) reminds me I still have a big chunk of Slaughterhouse money I keep forgetting to send to ScooterRelief.

Patricia Piccinini’s “Nest”

Australian artist Patricia Piccinini has created a family of mutated fiberglass scooters for her 2006 “Nest” exhibition. 2SB pal Christine describes it best as “Surreal, oddly endearing, and sentimental like Bambi” and we can’t top that. If your taste for art extends beyond the scooter-related, see more at Patricia Piccinini’s site. Her first U.S. exhibition opens tomorrow at the Des Moines Art Center, with a later stop in Seattle. (Thanks, Chandler.)

St. Louis Motomuseum/Motofest

St. Louis’ new Moto Museum is hosting a “History of the Motorcycle” exhibit featuring 100 bikes from 100 years, concurrent with the first St. Louis International Motorcycle Festival, April 26-29, 2007. It appears that the show will be the only public display of the collection, so it’s not a “museum” so much a “Jay Leno’s garage.” (You’d think Lu$ would keep us abreast of StL news, but no, this one came from Matthew, thanks!)