Scooter Art: Selling the Dream

Bikes Culture

The scooter was the perfect post-war product. It set a whole new generation of commercial artists to work.

The birth of the scooter coincided precisely with the post-war boom in the consumer economy.

And along with the industrial boom came an explosion in what used to be called ‘Commercial Art’. This was the age of the Ad Man.

The scooter was a perfect new product. It was an affordable, adaptable and versatile machine. There was a generation all over the world that needed cheap, affordable transport like this. The scooter became the perfect marriage of product and market.

Both Piaggio and the Innocenti corporation, which created the Vespa and the Lambretta respectively, harnessed the advertising media brilliantly, and came up with some beautiful and inspiring print campaigns.

Touchstones of the new scooter aesthetic they created were fun, speed, thriftiness. Women were targeted explicitly too (these after all were pretty motorcycles with skirts!). If motorbike manufacturers like Triumph, BSA and Harley Davidson sought to capture a macho generation hopped up on the buzz and tech of the war economies, Piaggio and Innocenti saw the gap in the market for the ladies and the teenagers.

Little wonder these machines captured the imaginations of generation after generation – and sold in their millions.

Here are some of our favourites pieces of scooter art.

1949 UK Brochure 02

This Vespa brochure from 1949 captures the prevailing mood perfectly.

vintage-vespa-ad-21

Hinting of the whimsical, the two colour treatment is a classic of its era – and crucially, aimed directly at women.

But this Tin-Tinesque French campaign, even earlier than the American one above, plays on Italian industry’s perennial creativity.

Vintage vespa ad 1

This single image from mid century captures the sense of dynamicism that sold many of the sportier versions of the scooter.

Vespa-Ad-2

This US print ad for Lambretta, however, was minimal to the point of genius.

Lambretta-Ad

But for period photographic vibrancy you don’t get better than this very early Lambretta campaign – straight out of the motherland.

Johnson-fig6

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