Who’s the most recognizable image in the tire industry?
Most people would unanimously say the Michelin Man. You all know what the man made of tires looks like, but do you know his history or even his name?
First of all, the Michelin Man’s name is Bib, and he has shockingly been around since 1894. When he was first launched he was not designed as a man of tires but as a man drinking beer and was accompanied with the French slogan “Nunc est Bibendum” meaning “Now is the time to drink.” Soon after this André Michelin, one of the founders of Michelin, saw a stack of tires that reminded him of a man; this got his wheels spinning, and he offered up the suggestion to change the beer-drinking man to a man made of tires. But Bib’s image still continuously evolved throughout the years.
Bib did not always look like the plush white tire guy that he is today; original images of him looked more like a honey bee hive than an overstuffed snowsuit. Michelin’s main objective with Bib was to make him relatable to its consumers, so when Michelin opened in London, the man made of tires was turned into a knight and a man with spectacles and a cigar. This campaign led Michelin decided to make the Michelin man represent all cultures within the Michelin family. When Michelin expanded into France, they resembled him as a diplomat; in North Africa he was dressed as an Arabic Bedouin; in Japan he resembled a sumo wrestler; in Germany and other northern countries he donned a toque, boots, and scarf. Later Michelin decided to give Bib one consistent look throughout all countries. Finally in 1998, Bib was redesigned as the image we know him as today.