Michelin Man Speaks for the First Time in 100 Years
Bibendum, the well-known Michelin man character, has uttered his first words more than 100 years after he was created. And what did he have to say? “I’m letting off fireworks” – the title of a 30 second radio advert airing this week on 59 British radio stations and in 10 other countries around the world.
Bibendum is celebrating Michelin’s collection of World Championship motorsport titles. In 2005 Michelin tyres won gold with Fernando Alonso and Renault in Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Sebastien Loeb and Citroen in the World Rally Championship, with Valentino Rossi and Yamaha in MotoGP and with Audi, an 8th successive Le Mans 24 hour race.
Bibendum, Michelin’s world famous mascot and trademark was actually conceived in 1894 when the founders, Edouard and André Michelin exhibited their newly invented pneumatic tyres at the Universal and Colonial Exhibition in Lyon. Observing a tall stack of different size tyres on the stand Edouard remarked to his brother: “With arms and legs added, that pile of tyres would look just like a man”. Within weeks artist and cartoonist Marius Rossillon, who worked under the pseudonym of O’Galop, produced the first poster featuring the rotund, pneumatic personality.
“Over the past 100 years Bibendum has evolved into one of the top 10 best recognised symbols in the world”, says Peter Snelling, Head of communications at Michelin UK. “There have been strict rules about his appearance and behaviour and he has never officially spoken before. But the celebration of this unique series of Championship wins, coming as the climax of our own centenary celebrations of business in the UK, has called for a very special message.”