Environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace has also joined as a partner. Attendees will sign a giant postcard banner and will be prodded to write letters, make phone calls to local representatives, and generally dial up political activism.
The musicians -- who will be trailed by photographers and film crew -- will perform at clubs, park amphitheaters, mountaintops, and campgrounds along their route, and do local-area advocacy efforts. The footage and photographs will be edited into webisodes to be posted on each of the artists' Web sites and at www.myspace.com/TheVespaExperiment.
The tour will begin in Carlsbad on April 30 then head north, hitting various cities, including Los Angeles (where they will play the Roxy), Monterey (for Monterey Live) and San Francisco. It ends mid-May. Updates are at www.myspace.com/TheVespaExperiment.
"This is a 100% organic partnership. The artists developed the idea, including the notion of taking the message on the road on two wheels versus four," says Paolo Timoni, President/CEO of Piaggio Group Americas. "They approached Vespa about the idea of working together. We thought it was a perfect match and a complement to our own ongoing Vespanomics campaign."
Timoni says California Vespa dealers along the travel route are lending a hand by helping to promote the concerts, events and the artists' important message.
Scooter sales benefited immensely last year from record high gasoline prices, while motorcycle sales slipped. Sales of Vespa and Piaggio scooters grew 60% last year, and the brand's market share rose 3.4% in 2008 to 27.7% of the U.S. scooter market. Overall scooter sales from all brands rose 41.5% last year in the U.S.
"Last year, sales grew enormously as consumers shifted to scooters to ease pain at the gas pump," says Timoni. "Gas is cheap again -- for now -- but the money-saving chapter of the scooter ownership story resonates just as much."
Timoni says Vespa will do a summer campaign focused on the financial benefits of owning a scooter. The campaign will bear the banner: "Runs on a nickel, turns on a dime."
"Nearly 70% of Americans own two or more vehicles, and our message to them is 'reduce your wheel count -- swap just one set of four wheels for two and save up to $6000 per year,'" he says.
Timoni adds that the company may expand the California music tour concept to other markets. "We're really excited about the concept and will evaluate it. Depending on results, we'll definitely consider how we might work with other artists and similar grassroots initiatives around the country," he says.