Publicity Campaigns

Over the years, as a shop we’ve been approached several times with regards to doing filming work for both Italian and UK networks. Most have gone on air and apart from the obvious publicity that this entails, it’s also a good laugh doing same. ‘Wieden+Kennedy’ are a London based agency and they had been asked by Nokia to find suitable ‘candidates’ for their forthcoming ad campaign. They visited ‘Bar Italia’ in London and after speaking to main man Nick the Bubble, they in turn contacted us. ‘W&K’ initially asked us to supply 6 - 8 Lambretta sidecar outfits and we set about contacting local friends and customers who just happen to have such exotic machinery sat in their collective lock-ups. Despite the oddball request, we found 7 outfits and our Paolo promptly sent over pics of both scooters and riders for Nokia to have a look at along with a few snaps of the various Mod styled scooters we have in the shop.
 RLC Pub 01

Within the hour, Tom Pearson from ‘W&K’ called us to say that Nokia had suddenly decided against the sidecars - but wanted Mod scooters instead. Ah… Another host of calling around to friends and we’re on with half a dozen Lambrettas along with Marci Modz’s ‘loaded’ PX to complete the bill.

Nokia recently has added a free ‘SatNav’ application for all their customers called ‘Ovi Maps’. To advertise this, they were looking for OTT modes of transport to be used in their ad campaigns. These included shoes with tiny motors and wheels, a customised elephant (!), a mono-wheel cycle with a car engine, custom cars, a homemade rickshaw-pulling robot and us with loaded Mod scooters. Each of these covered a ‘journey’ and thanks to the all singing, all dancing telephone application, people were well and truly ‘connected’. Tom also explained what was required from us as Nokia intended to run two campaigns using the scooters. One was a filmed shoot for use on TV, on internet, in airport terminals and metro screens. The other was a photo shoot for billboard posters, magazines and advertising on buses etc. The filmed footage was to be of us riding together and “meeting up” and the other was a photo-shoot of a solo rider.
RLC Pub 02 
As the campaigns were to be used worldwide there were certain ‘rules and regs’ that needed adhering to. If publicity is shown in just one country then these no – no’s are minimal but when you have to keep everybody happy, world over, then things get a trifle more complicated. There were the best part of 50 regs to consider / apply and these included more obvious things such as “no animal skins prints” on seat covers etc. to keep the animal libs happy, to less obvious things such as “no green helmets” because in China this means your wife has been bed hopping elsewhere, and you have to show your shame by sporting green headwear – helmets included. As Nokia had also chosen the shops ‘Speedball’ TV200 as the main scooter of the campaign, the flyscreen with this name had to be removed. The name originates from a ’79 Mod band from Southend although it could be mistakenly tied to other things. That coupled with the fact that the featured telephone had to be “in view”, so an uncluttered handlebar mounting point was always going to be top choice.

Come day one, after being briefly acquainted with the first ‘troup’ of 20 technicians, cameramen, assistants and assistants’ assistants etc., we toured our local Romagna county to photogragh ‘Speedball’ being ridden down all manner of quaint Italian streets. I have to say that of all the people we’ve done film work with over the years, W&K had chosen the most professional people we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. The head honcho for the photo side of things was Josh Cole, who normally shoots skaters and rappers in the most seedy / dangerous parts of the planet and is highly regarded in such circles. He was extremely down to earth to work with and knew exactly what he wanted, picture - wise. The only problem we had was that the location chaps had seemingly chosen every cobbled street in Romagna. Not the easiest surface to ride upon in any situation but with a fully loaded Mod scooter? “Now, you ride down there, as fast as you can and lean right over in front of the camera as you pass by.” Yeah, right mate. After pointing out that ‘Speedball’ was “not a motor-crosser”, we managed to negotiate the speed factor more akin for a Mod scooter sliding about on shiny cobblestones. Marvellous. Six locations later, no chrome bodywork scrapping off poor road surfaces, plenty of pics in the bag and it was a “wrap”, as they say.
 RLC pub 03
The next part of the show was the actual filming. The location people were still unsure as to where to film so we suggested a tiny mountain-top town called San Leo. “Does it have cobblestones?” came the reply. Upon the affirmative, location sorted. This time the ‘troup’ was ably run by Joseph Bullman, who is well known in documentary making circles. Seeing as we all had to be ‘on set’ in San Leo at 7am, which is the best part of 50km’s from the shop, I suggested that ‘W&K’ put us up in the towns only hotel the night before, to avoid any possible ‘hiccups’ en-route on the morning in question. This also meant we could all partake in a jolly up of biblical proportions the night before. Being total professionals, meant that everyone got completely off their collective trollies in no time at all. I don’t think that San Leo has experienced anything like the show put on by JJ Vianello and Paolo singing at the tops of their voices at gone midnight. What luck that the local police station closes at 5pm….

Come morning the film crew was ready to roll and surprisingly, considering the above, so were we. Bleary eyed but ready. The cobblestones were also ready and ‘Speedball’ was sliding out on a constant basis. The Lambretta had previously also been fitted out with several on-board cameras and these managed to eat up over 300 ‘AA’ batteries during the days filming. Joe had us noisily riding up and down all day, much to the ‘delight’ of the locals and several hundred sight- seeing tourists who at least now had something else to photograph other than the local castle and tacky gift shops. With San Leo being an ancient fortress town meant that the high walled buildings blocked all useable sunlight out by 5pm. Despite the late afternoon rush to finish the last shots, Joe seemed perfectly happy with all the filming he’d managed to do and once again the show came to an end with grins all round.

The end results of the shooting have been used World-wide on TV, on billboards, train stations, public transport, airports and even during the intervals of the World Cup football matches. The scooter footage has been used in ‘multiple’ ads along with others mentioned above and also on it’s own, depending on which country it has been aired in. Whilst I don’t deny it’s also been positive for the shop in general, hopefully the outcome will also see people who had never previously thought about getting a scooter considering doing just that.  And that’s what really counts.

Dean Orton RLC

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