Vespa’s Worst Co-Promotion Ever

If you need more proof that VespaUSA is very nearly criminally clueless: co-promotion with Havaianas flip-flops.

I know, people ride in flip-flops all the time. But to PROMOTE that? To ENDORSE it? That’s just plain irresponsible. I’d love to see a flood of tweets to @Havaianas and @VespaUSA from safe scooterists. And as @scooterism points out: “Aside from safety, this is why drivers don’t take us seriously.” (thanks, Eric, for leading the charge!)

And don’t give me “Havaianas makes other shoes” and “You don’t have to wear them on your scooter,” Havaianas is famous for flip-flops, the ad shows flip-flops and a Vespa, their “Make your own” system only offers flip-flops, and the “other shoes” they make are also totally scooter-inappropriate anyway. On top of that, the copy says “You can stay in-style in your Make Your Own Havaianas and be eco chic on a brand new Vespa!” which certainly implies that you’d do both at the same time.

“Better than French Beer”

That’s our proposed tagline for Peroni, but 2sbBrandPartners didn’t get the account, so they end up with this: director Gabriele Muccino’s film Senza Tiempo, an Italian film for an Italian beer company about making Italian films for an Italian beer company. Meta! As required by Italian film law, there’s an obligatory Vespa VBB and Fiat 500. (at 1:40). More background (and a better quality video) at Peroni’s site if you can find it through the age verifications and Flash nonsense (don’t get sidetracked by the “Vespa” link that goes nowhere Vespa-related).

I’m so glad I work only nominally in the advertising industry.

Thanks for the link, Bradley J.!

Take the Kymco

Toronto’s Kymco dealer ran transit ads on Toronto’s TTC system imploring riders to “Take The Kymco,” (TTK). A clever idea, too bad they flagrantly copied the TTC trademark and TTC removed the ads. Whatever your feelings about scooters’ impact on ecological, economical, and traffic impact, public transportation is surely better, but that said, public transportation riders are probably a wise target market for scooter dealers!

Dumba Dumba Dumba: Madness’ “City”

Madness’ awesome TV commercials for the Honda City, The City was a compact hatchback with a matching folding scooter that tucked into the back, a concept that deserves to be revisited with the Fit. The jingle was later reworked as the “In the City” single, and “Honda Honda Honda” was replaced with “Doomba Doomba Doomba.”

(Thanks, Heather, awesome find!)

Adidas/Vespa parties in 5 cities

After teasing America with mostly unobtainable European tidbits, the Adidas Originals/Vespa clothing and shoe line is hitting the U.S. in full force with five launch parties at U.S. Adidas Original stores over the next week:
Berkeley, CA July 23 6-8 PM
Chicago, IL July 23 6-8 PM
Georgetown, DC July 23 6-8 PM
Miami, FL July 23 6-8 PM
Portland, OR July 24 6-8 PM
(Click on the city for the specific invitation)
These “Private Shopping Events” include a 20% discount and a gift with an $80+ purchase (I’m told anything that’s sold out or unavailable in-store can be ordered online at the event with the discount). Visitors can enter to win a customized Adidas Originals Vespa S-50.

The Vespa Experiment

Vespanomics is in motion for the Vespa Experiment, in which three singer-songwriters are in the midst of a Vespa tour of California nightclubs and coffee bars. A solid idea, everyone loves acoustic folk peppered with pseudo-environmental PiaggioUSA talking points, until you hear raging bullshit like (take it away, Paolo!):

“If the 69% of Americans who own two or more cars would just switch one set of four wheels for two, the reduction in fuel consumption, emissions, congestion and cost would be significant – not years from now, but right now,”

So all we need to do is immediately and permanently change the transportation habits of a mere 69% of Americans? If only America’s 21 million 2-or-more-car households* bought a scooter (a Vespa, natch), we’d se a significant change?

Am I cynical? Am I a big hater? No. That’s just a ridiculous dream.

Piaggio sold 15 million Vespas worldwide between 1946 and 1996. VespaUSA bragged a few years ago that with new plants in Brazil and Asia, they could supply the American market with 1 million scooters a year, even that was a pipe dream, seeing as how the MIC reported that only 222,000 scooters were sold in the U.S. 2008, the best year for scooter sales in decades.

(Feel free to quote those numbers if you go to one of the shows.)

Also, here’s a bit more detail on Vespa’s Pandora music channels (is that ANOTHER ad agency?) and news that Vespa’s doing a promo tie-in with that sad new Da Vinci Code-prequel.

*The exact number here is arguable, but we’re probably being more conservative than Timoni. First, we’re assuming he’s talking about households, not individuals, it’s ludicrous to think 65% of Americans own two cars personally. We found stats citing 21 million multi-car households in the U.S in 2005, and went with that. If Timoni’s “69%” was applied to all US households (105.5 million in 2000), that would mean 72.5 million multi-car households. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and stick with 21 million rather than 72.5 million. Or! Maybe he meant “69% of the Americans” rather than “the 69% of Americans,” that would get him down to only 15 million scooters. The gist remains the same.

Piaggio targets Continental Airlines

airportNo, Roberto Colannino isn’t looking to acquire another airline,* Piaggio USA is marketing directly to Continental employees in Newark, NJ as part of a Continental Airlines alternative-transportation program featuring designated scooter parking and giveaways. It’s actually a pretty neat idea, though it might be tough to implement on a wider scale.

*It’s easy to forget that the Vespa’s roots are in aviation. Piaggio Aero (an entirely separate company, but still bearing the Piaggio name) still makes airplanes. It’s odd that with all of the news about Colannino’s acquisition of Alitalia, that factoid never came up.

Tuka Tukanji

Three “Wacky Races”-style ads for Tucano Urbano scooter accessories featuring TU mascot Tuka Tukanji. They’re at least a couple years old, but we’d never seen ’em before. Too bad Tucano Urbano isn’t available in the U.S., they make some great stuff, but it’s expensive, and even moreso when you have to pay shipping from Italy. (Thanks for digging these up, Ryan!)

“One of those little things that buzz by in traffic”

Just when you think you’ve seen every vintage Vespa film there is, YouTube digs up more gold. This 1961 Vespa commercial, presumably produced by ’60s East-coast distributor Vescony, makes a very clear argument for the Vespa as a commuter vehicle, then pushes their luck with exaggerated mileage promises (125mpg?) and oversimplification of the engine to “three moving parts.” (The party line has always been four, which already seems a bit oversimplified, unless you’re counting, for example, the entire transmission consisting of the gearshift linkage, gear cluster, shifting cross, and Christmas tree as “one part.”) A great find. (Thanks to Dave McCabe.)

UPDATE: VCOA historian John Gerber comments:

It’s definitely Vescony, but it’s 1964 NOT 1961. It’s a Carl Alley produced commercial. Several were produced, but Piaggio would not share in any of the costs for airing them. They were never shown nationally, but some of the larger dealers showed them locally during non-primetime. In general, they were way too expensive to be shown even at off times. I saw one only once for my local dealer during a Saturday afternoon movie re-run. If Piaggio had enough sense to underwrite serious advertising in the U.S. things might have gone a lot different for them.