Vespa Scooters In Hunt For Shop

Piaggio USA, the U.S. arm of the Italian maker of Piaggio and Vespa scooters, is seeking an agency for its nascent national creative account, sources said.

Piaggio, with a U.S. base in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., has run no national ads since returning to U.S. marketing in 2000 after a 15-year hiatus. It has relied on retail efforts handled by dealer groups and cross-promotional efforts.

A client source said the company is interested in agencies that create eye-catching campaigns without big budgets. Attik in San Francisco, which handles Toyota’s Scion, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, which has BMW Mini, are among the shops on the company’s radar.

The company is looking to launch its first national print effort, integrated regional efforts and an interactive media campaign.

“We want to more than double sales and go beyond what we have done in terms of generating buzz,” the company executive said. Those efforts have consisted of product placement, PR and cross-promotional and in-store deals with brands like Starbucks, Target and Coach.

Plans call for a combination of print, kiosk-type stands in major markets, point-of-sale and audio and video Internet efforts, as well as integration between national and retail creative. “All these messages have to be edgy and very unique,” the executive said. “We are interested in making Vespa part of daily life.”

Last week Piaggio launched a PR effort with The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York. Students there are designing Vespa-inspired clothing and accessories, to be unveiled at the Parsons Benefit and Fashion Show in May.

Piaggio has 15 percent of the U.S. scooter market, which also includes Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.