GREENVILLE, S.C.—Michelin is shifting its marketing and advertising strategy away from the animated world of the Michelin Man to "real-world scenarios" where he makes cameo appearances. The first in this initiative, dubbed "I Need You," debuted during Super Bowl LI, in a last-minute decision by Michelin North America to place the 30-second ad in the FOX-TV broadcast.
The spot follows the lives of people in different cultures interrupting their schedules to be there for the ones they love—a young father returns home to learn his wife is pregnant; a young woman rushes to comfort her friend, who has just ended a relationship; and a mother leaves work to reach her son, who's homesick during his first sleepover.
To get there, they have to drive and rely on Michelin tires to get there safely.
"This TV ad marks an important change in our marketing strategy," said Andrew Meurer, vice president of marketing for passenger-vehicle tires, Michelin North America.
"This strategy aims to balance Michelin's long-standing message of superior tire performance with better consumer awareness about the importance of their tires as they navigate the urgent, sometimes emotional needs of daily life. Michelin makes it possible for drivers to be there for others when it matters most."
Michelin reportedly took advantage of last-minute deals to fill some open spots in the Super Bowl broadcast schedule.
The advertisement was filmed on locations in Cape Town, South Africa; Paris; and Guangzhou, China. The spot was produced by TBWA\Chiat\Day NY, directed by the team of Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNichol, featuring musical excerpts from the song "Stay Alive" by artist Jose Gonzalez of Gothenburg, Sweden.