It’s fairly common knowledge that Karl Benz has been attributed as the inventor of the modern automobile, delivering his Motorwagon in 1885, and then being granted a patent in January 1886.Like all good marketers Karl Benz, upon receiving his patent, began promoting the vehicles in July 1886 resulting in 25 sold between 1888 & 1893.

Clearly the high cost of purchasing a Motorwagon was being reflected in the small number of sales and in 1896 a degree of affordability came into play with the introduction of the internal-combustion flat engine.

These engines were started to be built under licence by the French, who were early adaptors of the car, and by 1899 Benz was the largest automobile manufacturer with just under 600 units sold that year.

Parallel to the work being completed by Karl Benz and his team to bring the automobile to life there were two brothers working on another connected challenge.

Edouard & Andre Michelin had become totally dissatisfied in the ability to fix bicycles tyres that were glued to the rims.  As such in 1888 they Incorporated Michelin tyres and in 1891 they were granted their first patent for the removable pneumatic tyre which was then used to win the first long distance bicycle race, Paris-Best-Paris in that same year.

Their transition into supplying the removable pneumatic tyre to the Automobile sector came shortly after and hence the true essence of the Michelin tyre brand was born.

As mentioned before the French were early motoring enthusiasts and it was this that prompted Andre Michelin to create the Michelin Guide to encourage more motor touring by his countrymen. With the rationale of giving the motorists enough information to make them feel comfortable to spend more time driving and touring the country, hence wearing down the tyres, resulting in increased Michelin tyre sales.

The Michelin Guide, originally with a blue cover, was first published in 1900 and remained as a free giveaway listing gasoline distributors, mechanics and tyre dealers throughout France until
1920.  To ensure motorists saw value in the information, from 1920 the guide had a small cover price and in 1926 it started to recognize quality restaurants with a star, this progressing to 2 & 3 star ratings in the 1930’s.

Today the now red covered guide is in many countries around the world and is powerful enough to control the destinies of Chefs, Restaurants and places of accommodation by applying or denying rating status.

Michelin now turns over 17.89 billion per annum and has over 110k employees and interestingly enough it considers itself to be in both the Manufacturing & Publishing sectors.

It is a bit sad to believe that when people today  talk about a restaurant having a ‘Michelin Star’ rating it’s done without too much connection to the tyre company behind it.

But back in 1900 Andre Michelin was truly a pioneer in creating Branded Entertainment connecting a brand with an engaging and effective piece of communication that has stood the trial of ages, surviving over 110 years to date.

What could you and your brand produce to support your offering, produce  greater awareness and ultimately sell more product.

In Branded Entertainment you are only limited by your imagination, sure you may not have a bottomless budget but you do have a bottomless imagination and there is always a way to overcome those budget issues.

First Published – Sean Brown 2011