Ex-Vespa-blogger Crystal Waters points out at Girlbike that even the marketing community has picked up on Piaggio’s failure to support the official Vespa blogs. ClickZ’s headline, (“Two Years After Launching Brand Blogs, Vespa Forgets Them,”) is misleading, they were forgotten about ten minutes after CooperKatz patted themselves on the back for inventing the idea. Still, even though both blogs were frozen in time with a depressing lead post about Vespa’s lack of enthusiasm, the VespaUSA site linked to them until yesterday (presumably the links were removed as a result of the ClickZ story).
Another punchline comes from a VespaUSA visitor who requested a catalog online and waited three months for it to arrive. As of today (January 3, 2007), the VespaUSA site launches a pre-Christmas promotion popup page. The front page features four “news” stories, two dating from June 2006 and at least one (possibly two, it’s unclear) featuring an expired promotion. Neither PiaggioUSA nor VespaUSA’s site mention a 2007 lineup, or the most-anticipated scooter of 2007, the MP3 (which amazingly remains without a name for the American market). One has to imagine that the majority of hits to a motorcycle manufacturer website in January are going to be people looking for new model info.
Canadian Scooter Corp. announced their 2007 Vespa/Piaggio lineup in mid-December (featuring the MP3, but no Vespa S!), but their site is also woefully out of date, featuring “news” from May 2006 and nothing about the new models.
If Piaggio as a corporation doesn’t have the reaction time or resources to keep their own sites up to date, (simply a fact of life for some bureaucratic corporations), the two Vespa blogs were a perfect way to spread information –on their terms–in a more timely manner. That’s why it’s even more depressing to see that they couldn’t muster the little effort required to communicate with their own (volunteer!) bloggers. With so many scooter bloggers, “official” and otherwise, doing their work for them, you’d think PiaggioUSA would be able to capitalize on their own hype, rather than abandoning every initiative they start. Once again, I ask, what the hell do Vespa’s marketing people (in-house and at CooperKatz) do all day? There’s very little evidence of marketing at the national level, in the past year they mustered nothing but an occasional PR-fluff newspaper story, the “Open Letter to Mayors,” the Vespetition (their master opus, maybe a week’s worth of work) and a handful of ads in national scooter magazines. Meanwhile, they’re awarding dealerships to anyone who asks, so they can say their “sales” are up. Perhaps their “marketing” is all at the dealer level?