In theory they may not directly have much in common with tyres, but thanks to them, big tyre brands have occurred on a large scale in mass culture. The non-tyre related symbols that they managed to create among others include: Michelin guides, Goodyear blimps, Pirelli calendars and Dunlop bridges.
For each of the tyre brands, it is not only a priceless element of identity and corporate order – it is also a chance for recognition beyond the sectoral framework. Suffice it to say what kind of event is the annual premiere of the next Pirelli calendar. The idea was born in 1962 - the British subsidiary of the Italian company sought new promotional and communication strategies. Although the legend of the calendar for the first two decades developed in difficult conditions – in Italy, photos of models were long considered vulgar and iconoclastic; in 1975-1983 the issuance had been suspended as an economising cut-back in response to the world recession from the oil shock. In the late eighties, Pirelli’s accountants realised that this form of promotion was not only cheaper than video advertising on national television, but also much more effective. Today, the Pirelli calendar is the brand’s trade mark, proof of its prestige and position in the world, where the industrial power can be valued the patron of pop culture.
Goodyear’s blimp is widely associated with just the manufacturer.
As in its non-tyre related life, Pirelli automatically brings to mind the photographic sessions with the best models, Goodyear has created its own unique hallmark in the form of monumental, hanging in the sky airships. While the Italian company from the beginning treated their calendar as a purely marketing tactic, the Americans originally built zeppelins commissioned by the Navy. At the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, the first of which served as air carriers, the next ones fulfilled a reconnaissance task - protecting the fleet of merchant ships.
A breakthrough in this area was built in 1925 by the Goodyear Pilgrim model - it was the first pressure airship and the first one created for advertising purposes. Although years later the American brand’s Zeppelins still roamed the skies in the service of the army - even during World War II (they were used for patrol and escort duties - resulted in detection of enemy submarines as well as assisting in search and rescue missions), but this only strengthened the recognition of the unmistakable Goodyear marketing symbol. In total, for precisely 100 years, Goodyear has built and operated over 300 of such aircrafts. Several of them, including the Europa model presented in 1972, flew outside the United States. This one in particular, as the name suggests, was stationed in Europe, in Italy precisely and was the first Goodyear "export" blimp. This followed the promotion of the American company on other continents - including Spirit of Safety in Australia, Ventura in Brazil, and Ling Hang Zhe in China. The majestic constructions visible in the sky today are still a masterpiece of the advertising accelerator. Although many other companies are trying to copy this strategy in their marketing activities, the recognition of the Goodyear’s Zeppelins is unrivalled.
Several creative ventures were very helpful in this achievement. For example, over the years, Goodyear blimps have been a regular part of the landscape of the famous IndyCar racing. It is true that the American brand has never (except for a few exceptions) offered passenger rides on its ships. The tradition of the Indianapolis 500 was that the winner of pole position for the race flew over the area in the Zeppelin’s cabin. One of the most famous Goodyear constructions in their history – the Spirit of America, graced hundreds of prestigious sporting and cultural events, such as the Oscars Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, the X-Games and matches from the NCAA, NBA, MLB and NHL leagues. The airships have also been captured in dozens of films, including "Black Sunday" and Bond’s "Goldfinger" (with Sean Connery in the role of agent 007) and "A View to a Kill" (with Roger Moore).
The Michelin Man is the most famous mascot of tyre manufacturers.
Bibendum and Michelin guides
Another example of pop culture icons created by tyre productions is obvious, but it is difficult to ignore it in this statement. Namely Bibendum, the so-called Michelin Man – who is the mascot and symbol of the French brand and most importantly - one of the oldest registered trademarks (presented in 1894). According to research, every seventh person on Earth knows and easily distinguishes the famous Michelin Man. In 2000, the Financial Times and Report on Business recognised this as the best and therefore most identified brand logo in the world. It also can’t be forgotten that it is not the only non-tyre asset of the French company. Since 1900, Michelin has issued the dining and hospitality guides.
As a reminder - the first edition of the guide of France was to serve motorists for repairs of cars on the road, finding accommodation and places where they can eat well while traveling and sightseeing. The publication contained, among others, addresses of petrol stations, workshops, tyre shops, petrol, services, meals and accommodation prices. Originally it was distributed for free, but over time the Michelin brothers decided that free publications are not taken seriously. In addition, in 1926, they began to evaluate restaurants, giving - the best ones - stars. Starting with one and from the 30’s of the twentieth century - the second and third. Today, this is the most famous form of culinary guide-reviewing in the world and having at least one "Michelin Star" is a measure of the quality and prestige of the restaurant. Note that currently in Poland only two premises can be proud of such a tribute.
The fifth symbol of the tyre brand, which in a textbook manner enrolled in mass "non-tyre" related imagination is the so called "Dunlop Bridge" - a kind of a lookout footbridge resembling a tyre sticking out of the ground, mounted on famous racetracks. It is without a doubt regarded as one of the most characteristic, most iconic motorsport landscape elements present on the most famous arenas in the world. The oldest surviving bridge from 1932 adorns the Circuit de la Sarthe in France – the track which hosts the 24-hour races of Le Mans. Others stand at Donington Park in Great Britain, Mount Panorama Circuit in Australia, Tsukuba Circuit and Sportsland SUGO in Japan, Mantorp Park in Sweden and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the USA. The Dunlop Bridge is also a must in many computer racing simulators, such as the Gran Turismo Series or Forza Motorsport. Just as it happened with the Goodyear airships, the original promotional idea of Dunlop today is also imitated on the tracks by other tyre manufacturers.
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