Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Marketing Michelin

Marketing Michelin

Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France

Stephen L. Harp

Publication Date
Binding Type

One of the world's largest tire makers and an international corporation with interests in countries around the world, Michelin is also a uniquely French company, one that throughout its history has closely identified itself with the country's people and culture. In the process, it has helped shape the self-image of twentieth-century France. In Marketing Michelin, Stephen Harp provides a provocative history of the company and its innovative advertising campaigns between 1898, when Bibendum—the company's iconic "Michelin Man"—was first introduced, to 1940, when France fell to the Nazis and the...

One of the world's largest tire makers and an international corporation with interests in countries around the world, Michelin is also a uniquely French company, one that throughout its history has closely identified itself with the country's people and culture. In the process, it has helped shape the self-image of twentieth-century France. In Marketing Michelin, Stephen Harp provides a provocative history of the company and its innovative advertising campaigns between 1898, when Bibendum—the company's iconic "Michelin Man"—was first introduced, to 1940, when France fell to the Nazis and the company's top executive, Edouard Michelin, died. Both events indelibly changed the company and the national context in which it operated.

Harp uses the familiar figure of Bibendum and the promotional campaigns designed around him to analyze the cultural assumptions of belle-epoque France, including representations of gender, race, and class. He also considers Michelin's efforts to promote automobile tourism in France and Europe through its famous Red Guide (first introduced in 1900), noting that, in the aftermath of World War I, the company sold tour guides to the battlefields of the Western Front and favorably positioned France's participation in the war as purely defensive and unavoidable. Throughout this period, the company successfully identified the name of Michelin with many aspects of French society, from cuisine and local culture to nationalism and colonialism. Michelin also introduced Fordism and Taylorism to France, and Harp offers a nuanced understanding of how the firm effected Americanization and modernization despite the protests of the French public. Through its marketing efforts, Harp concludes, Michelin exerted a profound impact on France's cultural identity in the twentieth century. His ambitious study offers a fresh perspective on both French social history in these years and the relationship between corporate culture and popular culture in the twentieth century.

Reviews

Reviews

This lively and informative book will be of interest to anyone who has ever navigated their holidays with a Michelin map or one of their red or green guides.

Harp encourages us to rethink many of our assumptions regarding the oppositions between tradition and modernity and between national and regional identity... This book is a fascinating contribution to the literature on modernization, regionalism, and consumer culture in twentieth-century France, and it will be of interest to specialists and general readers alike.

By reminding us that businessmen have deployed power and money to advocate causes, or that they have, through their products and their publicity, shaped our quotidian experiences, Harp's broadest contribution is to recognize that cultural history has much to gain by focusing on the producers as well as the consumers.

Harp's achievement is notable. He has offered a strong base on which to build further studies on the role of advertising in mass culture while contributing significantly to our understanding of French culture.

Stephen Harp has written a first-class advertising and cultural history that is both informative and engaging.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
376
ISBN
9780801866517
Illustration Description
31 halftones, 3 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Chapter 1. The Making of the Michelin Man - The Birth and Life of Bibendum in the Belle Epoque
Chapter 2. Finding France - The Red Guides and Early Automobile Tourism before the War
C

Preface
Introduction
Chapter 1. The Making of the Michelin Man - The Birth and Life of Bibendum in the Belle Epoque
Chapter 2. Finding France - The Red Guides and Early Automobile Tourism before the War
Chapter 3. Touring the Trenches - Michelin Guides to World War I Battlefields
Chapter 4. Saving the French Nation - Pronatalism and Paternalism
Chapter 5. Advocating Aeronautics - Modernity and French Elan
Chapter 6. Advocating Americanization? - Taylorism and Mass Consumption in the Interwar Years
Chapter 7. Defining France - Fusing Tourism, Regionalism, and Gastronomy in the Interwar Years
Conclusion
Notes
Note on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Stephen L. Harp

Stephen L. Harp is an associate professor of history at the University of Akron.