CAMPAIGNS: DC's international flavor helps give Vespa local boost

PR Team: The Bomstein Agency (Washington, DC) and Vespa Washington (Washington DC) Campaign: Vespa Washington's First Annual Classic Vespa Show and Premiere Party Time Frame: April-May 2003 Budget: $5,000

PR Team: The Bomstein Agency (Washington, DC) and Vespa Washington (Washington DC) Campaign: Vespa Washington's First Annual Classic Vespa Show and Premiere Party Time Frame: April-May 2003 Budget: $5,000

Vespas are well known in the US - as something only Europeans drive. When the first Washington, DC Vespa dealership opened its doors in July 2002, its owners relied on ads to spread the word. One year later, The Bomstein Agency, the same local firm that had done the advertising, was asked to launch a PR campaign to speed things along. But the opportunity to hold a grand-opening celebration was long past, so Bomstein took a different approach. They decided to stage a "coming out" party for Vespa. Strategy Bomstein decided to focus on both the general public and Washington's eclectic (and influential) international community, and opted to do so by holding separate parties for the two audiences. The main event, the First Annual Classic Vespa Show, would showcase the product and its history for the public and the media. But two nights before would be the premier party, attended by government personalities and diplomats, particularly those from Italy, who would bring with them their own intimate familiarity with the classic scooter. Tactics In a daring display of PR ingenuity, Bomstein and Vespa offered two brand-new Vespa motor scooters to whichever local radio station could put together the best promotional package for the show. The winner was top-rated HOT 99.5, which gave the show and the dealership 60 plugs in the three weeks before the event. Bomstein also teamed with the local DC Vintage Scooter Club, which provided both early-model vehicles and contact with local scooter enthusiasts. The Italian embassy, the National Italian American Foundation, and one of the DC area's trendiest Italian restaurants, Cafe Milano, also provided contact with local Italian businesspeople, Italian media, and local Italian residents. Ultimately, 1,000 invitations for the premiere, designed by Bomstein's creative department, were sent to DC media, Italian media, prominent Italian-American businesspeople, DC elected officials, and Vespa enthusiasts. Results More than 550 people called to RSVP for the premiere, and even more were in attendance. Members of the press included The Washington Post, The Washington Times, ABC News, CNN, CBS News, USA Today, WMAL Radio, DC Social Insider, L'Unita, and il Giornale. "It was catered, and we had a violinist playing," recalls Bomstein director of PR Nancy Daniel. "We had all the vintage Vespas outside the tent so people could see how the Vespas evolved over the years." On the day of the First Annual Classic Vespa Show, HOT 99.5 sent DJs to spin live music while hundreds of Washington-area customers streamed in. There were interactive games and prizes, live music, a karaoke contest, photo ops on a brand-new Vespa, the latest Vespa accessories and scooters, as well as more than 25 vintage scooters, some of which had been driven from as far as West Virginia and New Jersey. "The nice thing about it was how the whole Washington scooter community, as well as the Italian community, rallied for us," says Daniel. "Vespa is more noted in Europe than it is here, so the fact that Washington is such an international community really made it easy for us to draw people in." Prior to the event, Bomstein PR disseminated a press release nationwide, and stories on the events appeared in The Washington Post, The Georgetowner, The City Paper, The Italian Tribune, and The Italian Voice. And sales at Vespa Washington have increased more than 20% since May. Future Both Bomstein and Vespa hope the party will be an annual event.

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