The allure of the Vespa

With but a measly marketing budget, Vespa has managed to squeeze out a pretty impressive presence since its re-entry into Canada just shy of two years ago. The strategy? Create big buzz through celebs, co-branding and street marketing.

With but a measly marketing budget, Vespa has managed to squeeze out a pretty impressive presence since its re-entry into Canada just shy of two years ago. The strategy? Create big buzz through celebs, co-branding and street marketing.

It was singer Nelly Furtado (she snapped one up last year) that sparked the idea to pair Vespas with ‘influencers’ like local celebs. ‘The best form of marketing for the Vespa is seeing people on them,’ says Jeremy Logan, VP marketing of the Canadian Scooter Corp., which distributes the brand. ‘[And] seeing someone really cool on it is even better.’

Now, Logan has loaned the slick transport to Much Music veejays and indie singers such as JackSoul as well as a couple of members of hot up-and-coming band, Metric. And in a PR coup, he loaned one to Citytv’s BreakfastTelevision host Liza Fromer, who not only chatted up the brand on-air, but rode it into work everyday for a week and had segments that highlighted how easy it was to earn a license and learn to ride.

But the scooter itself – sans celeb – has an appeal all its own. A pack of Vespas swirling around cafés, bars and events, attracts a lot of attention. So last summer, a street team of six was loaned Vespas and instructed to go along with their lives. Every once in a while, however, they would converge at trendy spots like along Toronto’s College Street.

‘It had big impact,’ Logan says. So much so that this year, he designed brochures for the street team to give to any interested oglers. He has also outlined and sent a plan of execution to all 23 Vespa distributors across Canada detailing how to create similar buzz among 30- to 55-year-olds the country over.

Also seems the chic Italian-made scooter, perhaps best known for whizzing eternally fashionable Audrey Hepburn around in Roman Holiday, has lured the likes of HMV, Reebok, Diet Pepsi and Snapple. Logan says pairing with brands that appeal to his target market is the main criterion.

Most recently Vespa partnered with Bell Mobility. The cellphone company is giving away four colourful Vespas to promote its line of upcoming similarly coloured Samsung phones. Vespa is featured in the in-store displays and included in the four million flyers that are currently being distributed across the country.

‘It gets the name out there in a much bigger way,’ Logan says, with close to no cost for the brand, which has very modest marketing dollars. Selective partnerships such as this have been rather easy – and wholly unexpected – says Logan. ‘So many companies have been calling for co-marketing.’