Piaggio and Vespa have launched new websites and they're shockingly good. In an industry that's notoriously web-averse, unable to market genuinely cool products in a remotely appealing way and generally years late to any trend (witness the Honda Fury virals), the company, or at least its design agency, is demonstrating a complete grasp of social media, graphic design and impactful, powerful marketing.
When someone purchases a Vespa or Piaggio they're not just purchasing a
vehicle, they want to buy into a young, stylish, design-savvy,
credible, exciting, eco-conscious lifestyle. If this were any other
motorcycle manufacturer, the customers would be doing this despite
marketing and advertising seemingly designed to put them off rather
than encourage their impulses.
Kawasaki's "Let the Good Times Roll" moniker and campaign, for example,
presents really awesome products in a really uninspired way that
demonstrates very little understanding of what those products represent
to their buyers, or even who those buyers are.
On the other hand, Piaggio presents itself in a way that's synonymous
with its products, check out the collages above for an excellent
example. Its scooters are classic designs that fit perfectly into a
modern world, its marketing and advertising uses thoroughly
contemporary methods to present those timeless products. The effect
belies the simplicity of the idea.
Motorcycles, scooters even, despite their inherent rationality are
overwhelmingly perceived as irrational purchases. Rather than avoid
this issue and present its products in a way that emphasizes the
irrationality in order to make them seem exciting, Piaggio presents
consumers with the tools necessary to justify their purchase in their
own minds and to others. Vespanomics is a cheesy name, but an excellent
argument in favor of a Piaggio purchase.
The company also demonstrates a prescient insight into who its
customers are, why they want to buy their products and the kinds of
lifestyles those scooters will fit into. Rather than attempting to
polarize people into four-wheeled and two-wheeled camps, it presents an
argument that allows for people to own both. Speaking to Cool Hunting,
Paolo Timoni, Piaggio USA's CEO describes the approach, "Sometimes
proposing combined usage depending on the driving situation. It's ok to
own both, the site just shows you how to optimize your cost
effectiveness." It's ok to drive your Toyota Camry, but purchase a
Vespa to let your hair down.
We're saving the best for last. Social networking is one of the most
powerful marketing tools, but also possibly the most misunderstood.
Piaggio gets it right. Instead of starting its own "me too" network or
designing some cheesy Myspace page, it gives customers something they
can (and will actually want) to use: a really slick ride route
application. It doesn't attempt to force interaction or sharing on
anyone, instead it enables them to create and share something that's
Perhaps the most impressive part of all this is how far the company has
come in just one year. About that long ago we were left speechless by
the exceptionally poor judgment demonstrated by Vespa's user video
contest. The winner, "Vespa Vespa," is below. We can't really say
anything about it other than that it's extremely funny. For all the