This isn’t strictly steampunk, but it is a piece of Victoriana and I think it’s worth posting. Check this creepy advert out!
This 1898 advert was the first to depict the Michelin Man. In case you’re wondering what the hell is going on, a man made of tyres is quoting Horace’s Odes while giving a toast at an upscale banquet of some sort while his zombie friends look on enviously.
Wait, that doesn’t clear anything up. Well, the Latin quote means, “Now is the time to drink.” And a tyre-man drinks broken glass, so… no.
Ah, okay, apparently the French below that means, “That is to say, to your health! The Michelin tyre drinks the obstacle!”
Right, that’s it, I’m going to look this thing up.
Okay, right, the slogan “The Michelin tyre drinks all obstacles!” comes from André Michelin in 1893. The implication that the tyre attracts nails and broken glass rather than resists them was seemingly not noted at the time. The Michelin Man himself was devised by André’s brother Édouard in 1894, when at a trade fair he noticed a stack of tyres in the rough shape of a man. In 1898, the Michelin brothers went to cartoonist O’Galop to come up with an advert and, rather than go for something involving roads, bicycles or anything directly relevant, they decided to recycle a rejected beer advert and use their 1893 slogan. Was a discount involved? It is a mystery.
So that’s how the Michelin Man came to be, and also how he came to have his other name, Bibendum. He’s changed a lot since he was a creepy eyeless Doctor Who villain, but nevertheless he remains one of the most recognisable advertising icons. I still don’t quite trust him, though.