Vespa and Trojan 'Ride Safely' Promotion Crashes

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NEW YORK ( -- A promotional campaign that joined Trojan condoms and Piaggio USA's Vespa motor scooter helmets in the same image urging
The canceled campaign of scooter and condom promotions featured double-entendre taglines such as 'Ride Safely' and 'Let's Get It On.' But Vespa's new president, who inherited the plan, 'doesn't like these kinds of associations,' according to a company official.

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Condon & Scooter Promo # 1
Condon & Scooter Promo # 2

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Feb. 25, 2003
Vespa and Trojan Joint Ads Advise: 'Ride Safely'

U.S. consumers to "Ride Safely," has been cancelled by Vespa.

The proposed brochure, published by on Feb. 25, were produced by the DePlano Group, New York, Vespa's advertising agency. In an interview on March 7, the agency's president and creative director, Marco DePlano, characterized the project as a "victim of timing." He said "the contract was late being signed and the new [Vespa] management had a change of heart and didn't want to do this thing."

The two co-promotional marketers said they had been working on the deal for months.

'Didn't work out'
"It was a simple tie-in promotion that didn't work out," said Richard Kline, vice president of marketing for Church & Dwight Co.'s Trojan.

Constantino Sambuy arrived as president-CEO of Piaggio in recent weeks from the U.K., where he had been marketing director for Vespa. His predecessor, Giancarlo Fantapple, now non-executive chairman of the marketer, told last week his successor "doesn't like these kinds of associations."

Mr. Sambuy didn't return calls.

Spring break promotion
Scuttled at the last minute, the planned three-week Vespa-condom promotion was to start last week on South Padres Island, Texas, and Panama City, Fla. Trojan planned a Vespa giveaway sweepstakes at its beach tents, including the distribution of "Ride Safely" co-branded brochures, Kim McGough, senior manager of consumer promotions at Trojan, told in late January.

Trojan, which has done spring break promotions for several years, is also staging games with Trojan-branded hats and T-shirts. Ms. McGough said the events reach a million young adults ages 18 to 24. The Vespa sweepstakes would have been extended online at into April with ads planned on targeted sites. She declined comment last week and referred calls to her boss, Mr. Kline.

Vespa has a separate co-promotional deal with Starbucks that is proceeding.

Vespa drove back into the U.S. market in 2000 after a 16-year hiatus and now has 62 dealers.

Troubled Italian carmaker Fiat sold 85% of Piaggio several years ago to a fund held by Morgan Grenfell Private Equity. That firm is currently being liquidated, according to the publication Private Equity.

Piece of the family business
Paolo Vianson, a Scottsdale, Ariz., engineer and descendant of Piaggio's founder, formed a partnership that sent a letter of intent to the company to help raise some $109 million for a 20% stake and management participation in Piaggio, according to the Feb. 17 issue of Scottsdale Republic North.

Mr. Vianson didn't return calls. But the newspaper reported his group planned to meet with Morgan Grenfell executives in the coming weeks.

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