The Michelin Man is known all over the world, but not many people are aware of the fact that he actually has a unique name. The name of the chubby Michelin Man name is Bibendum, sometimes called Bib or Bibelobis.
Bibendum was introduced to the world during the Lyon Exhibition of 1894 where brothers Edouard and André Michelin had a stand. He was created four years earlier by the Michelin brothers and poster artist O’Galop. Throughout the years Bibendum has been featured in the company’s famous restaurant guidebooks, travel guides and numerous ad campaigns. He’s been consistently portrayed as a “lord of industry, a master of all he surveyed, and a patriotic expounder of the French spirit.”
Today, Bibendum is one of the world’s oldest and most recognized trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries.
Rumor has it the lovable mascot was inspired by a pile of tires that Edouard visualized with arms and legs.
Early on Bib was portrayed as a mummy, a gladiator, a kickboxer, a ladies man, etc.
His look was refined in the 1920s – in a poster he’s pictured assisting a family with a flat tire by donating the biggest, choicest tire from his own midsection. Bib is white because, before 1912, tires were either grey-white or had a light translucent beige hue.
Advertisement and slogan
In ads, he was often portraited with a glass in his hand and the words “Nunc est Bibendum” (Latin for “Now is the time to drink.”). The glass was usually filled with nails and broken glass, which was meant to indicate the toughness of Michelin tires. Shortly after Bib’s creation, he started playing a major role in Michelin’s advertisement campaigns – Bib presented the products, advised and assisted drivers. In short, Bib is and always has been Michelin’s brand ambassador worldwide.
In early 1900, Michelin launched an Italian travel magazine, Agenzia dei Italia Pneumatici Michelin. Our Bibendum used to have a monthly column in said magazine, where he could express his thoughts on events.
Bibendum made a guest appearance in the French comic book series, Asterix in Switzerland as a chariot wheel dealer.
Bib also starred in the 16-minute animated French short titled “Logorama,” which won an Oscar in 2010. The short file features two Michelin cops chasing down Ronald McDonald. You can find it on the internet.
It’s important to note here that today, Bibendum chooses to remain silent; he’s only had one speaking engagement since his debut. This is a deliberate decision made by the advertising agency, Campbell-Ewald. “His silence is an artistic choice… he’s the strong, silent type,” said the agency’s creative director.
Restaurant and Oyster Bar
A restaurant opened up in 1986 and is still in business today. It’s located in Chelsea, London where the first permanent UK headquarters and tire depot for the Michelin Tyre Company Ltd. is located. Restaurant diners are still greeted today by mosaic floor tiles showing Bibendum holding a goblet of nuts, bolts, and other hazards, as well as a dramatic backdrop of stained glass windows portraying him as a kickboxer and a cigar-puffing cyclist. Be sure to stop by next time you’re in London.
Bib has a fluffy white canine companion by the name of Bubbles.