The origin of the Michelin Man can be traced back to the year 1894- four years before the mascot was first drawn.
A pile of tyres sparking a beautiful imagination? Well, no one but the creators themselves could have initiated something this huge and significant. The origin of the Michelin Man can be traced back to the year 1894- four years before the mascot was first drawn. After attending the Lyon Universal Exposition in 1894, Edward noticed a pile of tyres on the Michelin stand and wondered how this could make a man with arms and legs. Dreamed up by the Michelin brothers, this concept was first painted in 1898 by O’Galop; the character acquired the name Bibendum later in the same year.
It wasn’t long before the Michelin Man acquired a human personality, thanks to the great names in advertising and poster art who contributed to his fame. Besides appearing on the brand’s advertising resources, a few artists gave him an expressive and funny character. The story of a mascot designed from a stack of tyres quickly caused a buzz in the industry helping its admirers establish a bond and learn new information associated with correct tyre use. The representation of the rotund figure became even simpler when Michelin established its very own Design Studio in the 1920’s. With a defined number of tyres and clear style lines, the Michelin Man in the initial years of its inception became a universal icon.
The evolution reflecting an era
The evolution of Bibendum says a lot about the car industry. From a sinister looking figure to a friendly guy we know today, the Michelin Man changed with the times. The accessories (Cigar, cuff links etc.) that first helped him appeal to a very small, wealthy section of society were later discarded when cars became more affordable. Pacing up the rapid technical advancements, his story in the form of spectacular design developments has never stopped.
1908: BIBENDUM THE DRAGONFLY
Remember the time when the aircrafts and biplanes only flew short distances? Convinced of the importance of aviation in the initial years of the 20th century, the Michelin Man decided to take the modern adventurers under his wing.
1914: BIBENDUM, THE MAGICIAN
Well, there’s nothing more engaging than a mysterious cartoon character that happens to take himself for a magician. With a cat on his shoulder and a wizard’s hat on his head, he funnily predicts the future for his readers urging them to buy nothing but the Michelin tyres.
1930: THE DIVER
Just like the Michelin Man, the comic strip character was famed for his unmatched strength and incredible physical resistance. The initial inspiration for Bibendum, The Diver was drawn from the one of the creations of E.C. Segar- Popeye, the famous sailor.
1952: BIBENDUM GETS MARRIED
The ceremony that took place in front of an astounded crowd was a revolutionary technological union of steel and textiles- a fabulous marriage between the two. With an effective yet simple communication strategy, Michelin once again made a complex innovation understandable for its advertisers.
1955: BIBENDUM GOES SHOPPING
Michelin has never failed a commitment to its buyers. With an initiative to sell everyday items at moderate prices, The Michelin Staff Cooperative Supply Company (SOCAP), a pioneering supermarket that was originally reserved for Michelin employees soon became accessible to a broader customer base. The Michelin Design Studio drew a cartoon of the Michelin Man availing promotional offers while shopping for new products.
2017: BIBENDUM MATCHES THE TIMELESS MODERNISM
For the ninth time since its inception, the Michelin Man evolved once again to match the timeless modernism. The jolly character is not just a mascot anymore, it represents the great values that the Michelin Group has adhered to- discretion and assurance. The Michelin man is now more visible and expressive. In 2017, the Michelin Design studio came up with one such innovation- a figure that sits on the top of trucks and cabs.
Icon of the Millennium- The Michelin Man
Bibendum, as the Michelin Man has been with us for 120 years now and it has certainly done more than just communicating a brand’s message. A brand that signifies trust and innovation at its best is also a brand that has never limited itself to simple notions of marketing. While its competitors stuck to basic advertising ideas, Michelin-the world’s leading manufacturer of fuel-efficient tyres over a span of 120 years has projected connection and loyalty in its truest ways. Taking creativity and communication to a whole new level, Micheline ranks among the world’s greatest brands today. And it all started when marketers back in the early 1900’s were barely acquainted with brand establishment. The evolving characters of Bibendum- Michelin’s adorably puffy white mascot is not just about quirky and off the wall designs but is also indicative of how Michelin has stood above the challenges faced by the automotive industry.
(This article is sponsored by Michelin)