Vespa’s latest marketing effort, a “digital lifestyle magazine” called La Vespa Vita, is an attempt to utilize user-generated content to showcase, in their words, “the individuality, style and vivacious spirit of Vespa enthusiasts.” The fittingly attractive site features three main sections: a “mosaic” of images from Flickr and Instagram, a blog and a style book (in addition to information on their models).
As of the site’s launch, the content on Vita is sparse, with the Mosaic the only section with significant substance. Of course, there are dozens of other places to find feeds of Vespa images, including Tumblr and Pinterest, which the Mosaic doesn’t currently pull content from. Unsurprisingly, some non-Vespa/Piaggio Group models have found their way into Mosaic, including a Malaguti Yesterday, Lambretta Li and a couple of Stellas.
A search of Flickr results in 40 images bearing the #vespavita hashtag used to submit images to the Mosaic. There are 299 on Instagram. However, we found several images on either image hosting site without the hashtag that are nevertheless displayed on Mosaic.
The Style Book is where owners will strut their personal Vespa style. It’s nearly empty, with a handful of images and descriptions, some of which have no clear connection to Vespa. Of those present, only two appear as if they might be submissions from owners/users rather than solicited by Vespa. This may be due to a lack of submissions, time required to approve submissions, or the reality of riders’ personal styles clashing with the image Vespa hopes to portray. As any rally attendee can attest to, the stereotype of the model-thin, attractive, young and fashionable Vespa rider rarely holds true.
The Blog is similarly devoid of user content. There’s an invitation for users to submit posts on the topics of Vespa Culture, History, Style and Fashion, Related Trends, Urban Vespa Life and Personal Vespanomics. The guidelines state, “Due to the high volume of posts we receive, we cannot respond to messages following up on the status of a submission.” The volume isn’t reflected on the Blog. At the moment, there are only two posts, one announcing the site and another on how to share images to the Mosaic and Style Book. Commenting appears to be enabled, though neither post has comments.
Ultimately, its reliance on user-generated content could mean La Vespa Vita won’t amount to much more than a pretty wrapper for an empty box. We have to wonder if they’ll get the kind of submissions they’re hoping for, beyond pics on Mosaic, which, again, is content abundant on other sites. Successful user-generated platforms promote not just submission and browsing, but engagement and community building, qualities essential to the Vespa lifestyle but sorely missing from La Vespa Vita.