Vespa inks deal with Trojan and Starbucks

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Vespa is teaming up with coffee and condoms to broaden awareness.

The marketer of Italian motor scooters has co-marketing deals with Starbucks and Church & Dwight Co.'s Trojan condom brand. The Starbucks promotion launches late this month, with 3,000-plus stores in the U.S. and Canada displaying posters and brochures featuring the scooter, as well as a co-branded sweepstakes. Prizes include a trip to Italy and Vespa products, said Giancarlo Fantapple, president, Piaggio USA, which markets Vespa.

Karlitz & Co., an independent New York events outfit, brought Starbucks together with Vespa's agency, DePlano Group, also New York. The agencies collaborated on print and online ads in The New York Times and on the newspaper's Web site, said Marco DePlano, president-creative director, DePlano. "Vespa is no more just a mode of transportation than Starbucks is just a cup of coffee," said Herb Karlitz, president of Karlitz.

Mr. DePlano is the common denominator, since Vespa, Church & Dwight and Italia Tours, New York, are all his clients. Italia Tours is organizing the trip.

The Starbucks partnership "allows Vespa to become Americanized while still retaining its made-in-Italy heritage," he said. The largest 100 Starbucks sites will have Vespas on display and the chain will create a Vespa-themed Starbucks Card. In the second phase, called "Passion Patrol," hired guns drive Starbucks-decaled Vespas in select cities to distribute the marketer's drinks.

A Vespa with decals is part of its promotion with Trojan, which begins in early March. The vehicle is the prize in a co-branded "Ride Safely" sweeps, which includes a brochure, poster and online banner ads. Consumers enter at Trojan's tent at spring-break events in South Padres Island, Texas, and Panama City, Fla. Kim McGough, senior manager at Church & Dwight, said the events will reach a million young adults ages 18 to 24.

DePlano's campus-targeted brochure and print ads contain double entendres "without sophomoric humor," Mr. DePlano said. One shows a helmet and condom and reads "Always Wear One."

Vespa returned to the U.S. in 2000 after a 16-year absence. The marketer now has 62 dealers. "When we started ... we were selling 60 [Vespas] per month," said Mr. Fantapple. "Now we are selling 1,000 per month. I think this year we can do better."

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