As the agency of record for Vespa® brand scooter, a division of Piaggio USA, CooperKatz was charged with developing a communications program that would encourage American consumers to consider the environmental and economic benefits of Vespa scooters. CooperKatz established a campaign called “Vespanomics” – a communications initiative designed to broaden Piaggioʼs target market from niche enthusiasts to mainstream American consumers by leveraging interest in environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient modes of transportation.
Before initiating the Vespanomics program, CooperKatz fielded a national survey to determine consumer willingness to consider scootering for a portion of their transportation needs. By comparing the results of the survey to Department of Energy national averages for fuel consumption and emissions, the findings established that if Americans were to start utilizing eco-friendly scooters they could, in aggregate, reduce national fuel consumption by 14 million gallons of gasoline per day and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 324 million lbs. per day.
The program launched with a CooperKatz placed full-page “open letter” advertisement in The New York Times from Piaggio North America CEO Paolo Timoni to the Mayors of U.S. cities, urging them to help America reduce its oil addiction, lessen CO2 emissions, improve transportation congestion and save citizens money by making their cities more scooter friendly. As a result of the open letter, the U.S. Conference of Mayors invited Mr. Timoni to address their national Energy Summit in Chicago. To add further dimension to the Vespanomics program, the CooperKatz team researched, wrote and promoted a position paper about the economic and environmental benefits of scooter use. CooperKatz also launched a national media outreach program aimed at reporters who cover a wide range of issues, from alternative transportation, motorcycle events, local commuting issues and new consumer products. Individual reporters were taken on tandem Vespa scooter rides while they listened to a customized podcast highlighting Vepsa historic facts, key product features and Vespanomics campaign messages.
The Vespanomics program resulted in more than 100 million audience impressions via over 200 print and online articles and upwards of 50 TV placements. Vespa scooters were featured prominently in an Associated Press story on gas prices and the resulting rising popularity of scooters. This story was picked up by more than 100 newspapers across the US. Vespas were also a major component to a similar story syndicated on the Knight Ridder circuit that was picked up by more than 50 daily newspapers. Vespa scooters were featured in “gas price” stories on NBCʼs “Today Show,” CBSʼs “Early Show” and ABCʼs “Good Morning America.” Local Vespa dealers also received coverage from more than 50 local market TV stations. In addition, online traffic to the Vespa website grew more than 100 percent during the month immediately following the Vespanomics launch.