This Michelin logo is a funny little man of tires, known to all motorists. At the beginning of this century, many magazines analyzing the advertising market recognized Bibendum as almost the most famous logo in the world. Of course, the French company Michelin is known not only for this picture. She managed to introduce many innovative ideas, including at least replaceable and radial tires.
Actually, Michelin is a family business. It arose long before the birth of the founders of the company itself – the brothers Andre and Eduard Michels. Aristide’s grandfather headed the plant, which produced various metal structures. And after the death of the owner at the enterprise problems began. One by one, the directors left, and they could not get accustomed. And in 1886 the factory was headed by the 33-year-old André Michelin, who returned to his native Clermont-Ferrand from Paris.
It is worth noting that Andre had extraordinary talents. He graduated from one of the best technical educational institutions in France, “Ecole Central.” In addition, the engineer was able to get also the education of an architect. Together with Andre, his younger brother Edward, who graduated from the Academy of Arts, soon began to work. In 1888, the factory’s affairs went on the mend, and it was renamed the Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin. Since that year, the official report of the most famous tire company in the world has begun.
Initially, the plant produced a rather large assortment. It included brake pads Silent, various valves, gas pipes, belts, water pipes. By the end of the XIX century the company turned its attention to such a new transport as a bicycle. Then he just became popular. And in bicycles usually fixed tires simply glued to the rim. In this case Michelin revolutionized, creating the world’s first removable tires.
And the company became famous after the cyclist Charles Terron won the famous race “Paris-Brest-Paris”. He was behind the wheel of a bicycle, just equipped with Michelin tires. Later, the historic race took place, when a lot of nails were scattered on the “Paris-Clermont-Ferrand” section. Winners were equipped with removable tires from Michelin, which led to enthusiastic talk about the company of cyclists.
But this success did not force the company to switch entirely to tire production alone. At the end of the XIX century Michelin even introduced the cart Éclair, which was able to move without the help of horse traction. It was a kind of prototype of the car. And they equipped this wagon with pneumatic tires, invented by John Dunlop. In 1894 the first automobile run took place. It was organized by the French journalist Pierre Giffar.
Of course, then there was no need to talk about speeds – the sight was not much like modern racing. Machines accelerated to just 21 km / h, which was not much faster than a bicycle. But that race made it clear to the Michelin brothers what kind of transport the future is. They began seriously to produce tires for cars. And the best advertising for the product was the auto rallies, which eventually transformed into racing.
And how one of the most remarkable logos was born, has its own beautiful legend. One day Eduard Michelin at one of the exhibitions saw a bunch of tires stacked on top of each other. It is not surprising that an artist who received an education, he immediately in his fantasy drew the hands, feet and head. Edward decided that out of a pile of tires, a good logo man could turn out. The Michelin brothers immediately turned to the famous caricaturist O’Gallar. It was he who created the first version of Bibendum. Only in fact, he did not draw a little man, he just had a ready-made job, which one brewer refused.
But the Michelin logo will like it. This explains the fact that on the first emblems Bibendum is depicted next to a beer mug. This was explained by finding nails in it, which was easily swallowed by the character.It was believed that the Michelin tires as easily can overcome all obstacles. The association turned out to be twofold, because it turned out that driving on a car was associated with alcohol. That’s why over time the beer mug disappeared from the logo. And Bibendum himself became a truly legendary hero, who smiled at the drivers from petrol stations, racing tracks, pages of car enthusiasts magazines.
But for some time at the end of the XIX century the company continued to supply tires for bicycles and fiacres. But the Michels themselves understood that in the near future these vehicles will go into oblivion. The prospects were seen in the car, the emphasis was on the development for him of pneumatic tires.
True, numerous participations in automobile racing have shown that the company’s products are not yet ready for full-fledged use. Machines with tires Michelin consistently turned out to be among outsiders. It seemed that the catastrophe was inevitable. But the brothers themselves began actively posting around the country ads, which reported that in 10 years, cars will start using inflatable tires. The Michels were mistaken – it happened already after 5 years. At the very end of the XIX century, the company’s turnover was 6 million francs. It could be argued that the family’s innovative business has grown into a large enterprise on a global scale.
The next step of fame came to Michelin in many ways due to a thoughtful advertising company, in which the image of the famous Bibendum was often played out. O’Gallop continued to draw it. In his works, the artist usually paid attention to such topics as the technical perfection of company tires, a caricature of famous historical figures portrayed by Bibendum, car races and advertising with a social background. In total O’Gallop created for Michelin about three hundred drawings. In 1906 the company’s first factory in France was opened, its logo becomes famous all over the world. Contributed to the opening of Michelin plants in America in a couple of years.
At the beginning of the last century, thanks to the company Michelin, automobile tours became popular. Especially for fans of such trips, the tire manufacturer even released its yellow “Michelin Guide”. This catalog describes all the most famous restaurants, hotels, petrol stations and other places useful to motorists. Due to the fact that there were few cars, the demand for such a publication was not high. That’s why the company distributed the guide for free. But over time the situation changed rapidly and the guide began to sell well.
And in 1906 the company became even more familiar with the world of travel. A special travel agency was organized, which helped motorists to compile their routes. And in the middle of the 20th century the company released the “Red Guide” for Europe. It contained the best in the opinion of experts hotels and restaurants in Europe. At the same time, Michelin specialists, who compiled this edition, went down in history due to their incorruptibility.
The restaurateurs and hotel owners have never been informed beforehand when an expert from Michelin comes to them. All these activities were conducted anonymously. The catalog was strictly selected, so the institution with poor quality of service simply could not get on the list. In the guide appeared sometimes Bibendum himself, however, unobtrusively.
Obviously, the Michelin brothers had a great influence on the world of advertising. And it’s not just about creating such a popular character and popularizing your product for even related services. In 1901, the company was the first to purchase pages of prints for advertising, especially at its own discretion. Soon such ads became very popular. After all, the company intrigued and delighted readers with the adventures of its hero Bibendum. He was not without humor telling what was happening in the world of tire production. At the same time, various catalogs and brochures began to be published for magazines, which began to spread throughout Europe.
Michelin actively captured the continental market. Only England for a long time did not give up – there the local government supported the national producer Dunlop. But soon the charming Bibendum fell in love with the English. Serious companies from Michelin appeared only in the years of world wars, but this was typical of the entire European industry. Already after the end of hostilities the company surprised the whole world with the novelty – the tires Michelin X.
An absolutely new technology was used to develop these tires. It allowed the product to serve twice as long as the previous models. So there was a radial tire. At that time, Michelin’s only problem was that the company simply did not have time to meet the demand of consumers. This went on for more than ten years, for which the company only managed to build new plants. From 1934 to 1976 the company owned even such a well-known automobile manufacturer as Citroën.
The history of Michelin is the history of one of the world’s most famous producer of tires for cars, bicycles and even airplanes. Thanks to its innovative developments, the company has done a lot for technical progress. Especially worth noting is the creation of a popular advertising character, which is a symbol of the brand for more than a hundred years.
The only place where the company could not show itself – Formula-1. There rule other kings – Bridgestone and Good-Year. Michelin at the same time even left royal racing, disappointed in the results. But in other kinds of automobile competitions the French shinniki participate not without success, in the same “24 hours of Le Mans”. The company even holds its competitions, among electric vehicles.