Vespa Goes 1960s Mod with Its U.S. Web Site

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The Vespa hasn’t changed much since its introduction in 1947, but the iconic motor scooter line launches a Web site today with a new look for the U.S. market. The site communicates the brand’s message of functional, fun, and fast through images, social connectivity, information, and a little bit of history.

An update from a static Web site (below), the new site, vespausa.com, (left) includes Web 2.0 features with a design reminiscent of 1960s mod. Last Exit, a digital strategy and marketing firm based in New York and London, created the site. A central graphic toggles between images representing the five sections: home; scooters; accessories and merchandise, why, where, and how; and community and downloads. The front page also has a place to sign up for a newsletter, a section for promotions, a tab explaining “Vespanomics,” and a news feed for stories relating to Vespa scooters and Vespa’s parent company, Piaggio.

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Each section got a facelift. The new site gives a richer amount of content for each scooter model than previously; it now offers product videos, reviews, and comparison with other Vespa models. The “why, where, and how section” gives would-be owners an introduction to the lifestyle, and offers a history of the Vespa and its parent company Piaggio. Community and downloads engages current owners, many of whom are committed to the brand. Owners form Vespa clubs to get together and ride. The site provides a venue to share and rate rides whether they’re scenic, leisure trips, or work commutes. The rides are plotted out using Google Maps.

The social elements lend themselves to phase two of the Web site. “We’re thrilled with the social networking applications of the new Vespa Web site including the ‘Community Rides’ section, which allows users to uncover, share, rate, download, and comment on new riding routes,” said Piaggio Group USA President Paolo Timoni.

Vespanomics discusses the scooter in terms of the environment and the economy. It includes white papers on global warming, traffic, and other issues. There is also a calculator, labeled “Vespa vs. Auto MPG” to gauge how to balance mileage if a consumer were to split driving between an SUV and a Vespa.

While Vespa’s history is rich, and the site does its job filling in the timeline for the scooter line, one crucial detail emanates throughout the site: apples. The 1960s Vespa ad campaign by Gilberto Filippetti carried the slogan in Italian “chi Vespa mangia le mele,” which translates to “he who Vespas eats apples” or takes a bite out of life. Apples weren’t present on the previous site, but have become a fixture on the new site and even pop up as an icon in several spots.

Like the iconic scooter, the site is fluid and never stops in motion between graphic images rolling and a scrolling news feed.

The new site will rely on more traditional forms of marketing and advertising to drive visitors and not have an online display advertising campaign to support it. There will be online support, however. “VespaUSA.com will be fully search engine optimized and we’re focusing on consumer and trade media outreach for added exposure,” said Timoni. Last Exit is currently working on a Web site redesign for Piaggio, which is expected to go live by the end of the year.

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