Michelin Man enshrined along Madison Avenue's Walk of Fame

Jan. 1, 2020
He's one of the oldest marketing trademarks in the world, and now the Michelin Man has been inducted into Advertising Week's Walk of Fame as "Icon of the Year."
He's one of the oldest marketing trademarks in the world, and now the Michelin Man has been inducted into Advertising Week’s Walk of Fame as "Icon of the Year."

Also known as “Bibendum,” the Michelin Man was elevated to the ceremonious location along New York City’s Madison Avenue via voters in an online poll. He joins other advertising stalwarts such as Geico’s gecko and Columbian Coffee’s Juan Valdez in earning the honor.

“The Michelin Man is much more than an advertising icon,” says Don Byrd, vice president of marketing. “He has become a global symbol of safety because of his longevity, his visibility among different audiences and the values he represents.”

While attending France’s Universal and Colonial Exposition in Lyon in 1894, the two founding brothers, Andre and Edouard Michelin, saw a stack of tires and envisioned that “it would make a man” if affixed with arms. Four years later, in 1898, the Michelin Man’s character was born, appearing in ad posters and otherwise representing the company.

An online history reports that tires didn’t begin taking on a black color until 1912, when carbon was added as a preservative and strengthener to the base rubber material. Tires were previously produced in much lighter hues, which is why Bibendum is white. Initially thinner to represent bicycle tires, he has also given up the original cigar and pince-nez.

Bibendum “has stood the test of time while representing improvements in transportation of people and goods, respect for the environment and promotion of road safety,” according to Byrd. “As one of the world’s most-recognized brand icons, the Michelin Man represents mobility to millions of consumers in more than 150 countries. As the ultimate stamp of approval, he gives consumers confidence wherever they are going by providing fuel-efficient, safe, long-lasting tires.”

In the current ad campaign, the Michelin Man reminds people that “the right tire changes everything.” The spots feature Bibendum in an animated world as he comes to the aid of motorists in trouble, replacing their faulty tires with the company’s tires, which he pulls from his body, thereby enabling them to keep driving. The message is that by using the right tire, motorists can reduce fuel consumption, increase driving safety and extend treadlife.

For more information, visit www.michelinman.com.

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