Bibendum, tyres, Michelin

Bibendum poster, 1898 by Marius Rossillon (O’Galop). The phrase Nunc est Bibendum translates as Now is the time to drink. [To your health! Michelin tyre drinks obstacles!)
(Wiki Image)

…and the 100-Foot Journeys

At the 1894 Exposition universelle, internationale et coloniale the Michelin Tyre Company introduced their mascot, Bibendum (the Michelin Tyre Man) to the world. Hosted by the French city of Lyon between 29 April 1894 – 11 November 1894 the plump tire man, comprising rings of white bicycle tires, continues to be one of the world’s most recognizable logos. Over the years his appearance has changed and Bibendum, during the Great War, was once shown as a French soldier wearing the French Adrian style helmet, gas mask and boots. Hoisting a tire aloft Bibendum proudly proclaims Michelin’s tires as the best. Today his appearance has slimmed, Bibendum no longer has a cigar, glasses and his bicycle-tire frame now resembles modern automobile tires.

Michelin House, Art Deco

Along the streets of London, the Art Deco Michelin House, built in 1911 stands at 81 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018).

Six years after the introduction of Bibendum, Michelin started to produce guidebooks. Having printed about 35,000 guidebooks Michelin distributed these freely to French drivers in an effort to increase the numbers of drivers in France which, in 1900, numbered about 300 motorists. More vehicles on the roads meant more Michelin tire sales! Within the pages of Bibendum’s Western Europe guidebooks – maps, lists of gas stations, mechanics, hotels and eateries.

In 1914 Michelin stopped producing their guidebook but in 1920, following the Great War, production returned. Changes were made as advertisements were withdrawn and Michelin became more selective in the promotion of restaurants introducing, in 1926, the “star-value” of eateries. One star – very good…two star – excellent (worth making a detour) and three star – exceptional (worth a special journey).

Michelin House, Art Deco, 1911

Michelin House, London. Side view along Sloane Avenue.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

It is Michelin’s promotions of 100 and 1000-mile journeys that I turn to the frequency of the 100-foot journeys (but a million miles away) made by relatives, friends and lovers to the Great War gravesides of their loved ones. Each step forward…with each breath and every tear…

Bibendum and Michelin can be praised for these guides that assisted many to find those corners of earth where family lay within the soil of France and Flanders. To their credit Michelin by 1921 had produced 15 guidebooks in English, the funds they received were provided to the reconstruction of areas devastated by the Great War…bon travail mon amies!

Two hundred miles from my home…A million miles from you.
Living without you on my own…

(Hélène, Roch Voisine, 1989)

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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