Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can a cartoon effectively make an emotional connection with its audience?


Michelin, the tire manufacturer, has announced the launch of new ad in its ongoing campaign featuring the Michelin Man cartoon character. The international effort which began airing in 2007 has a notable emotional slant and the new ad, which isn’t posted on YouTube yet, features a father and son navigating hazards together. (Greenberg, 2011)

Here is the previous commercial in the campaign.

What do you think? Does it work? Would they have been better off using live action footage?

Greenberg, K. (2011, June 21) Michelin Man Gets Wet In New Ad. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from


  1. A cartoon will definitely make an emotional connection with children. However, I cannot imagine every child turning to their dads and say,"please, daddy, buy Michelin Hydroedge tires, so that you will stop 14 feet shorter, and won't kill a little purple rabbit." Does Michelin really think he is reaching the right audience?

    The previous commercial in the campaign opens on a dying fox playing his own music for his funeral... And an innocent rabbit, which has to cross this DANGEROUS street, will soon join him. But fortunately, "along came the Michelin!"

    What is funny is the fact that from a sinister, sad, and rainny night, it suddenly becomes a sunny, dry, and green day... It looks like Michelin brings summer time (and resuscitates the dead bodies)! It might be difficult from this perspective to use live action footage.
    But at least, it supports the reminder that "the right tire changes everything."

    I also believe that the colors of a cartoon are more attractive to the eyes. Subsequently, if you are doing an activity with your TV turns on, you may pay more attention to this commercial than the others.

  2. I think the tonality of the emotion is a little misconstrued by the animation. It seems like a fun, carefree, cute action story. If the emotion they're going for is the fear and anxiety drivers experience on rainy nights when they can't stop short and might hit an animal/get in an accident, it comes off as making light of the situation. While I understand that animation spots are less expensive to produce and can illustrate much more, I think a live-action spoke really evoking the fear would be more powerful. I do like the story-line delivery.

  3. The new series of Michelin commercials are great. The claymation style and rhymed, storybook voiceover pay homage to Tim Burton gems like “Vincent” (1982), and “Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993).

    The ads have simple, hypnotic narration. The visual qualities of the commercials are exciting, engaging, and fast paced. The ads spell out in child-like simplicity that there are dangers on the road but Michelin tires help you avoid them. There is good and there is evil. Unfortunate fates befall unlucky drivers… but “Michelin tires change everything”… Michelin keeps you safe.

    The scenarios in both commercials are rather disconcerting. Cute woodland creatures lay smooshed on a foreboding country road woefully awaiting death, a father driving with his child careens out of control. However, the clay-animation aesthetic softens the blow. It also allows the Michelin mascot to fit in better stylistically.

    Michelin Man looks like a cross between the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and a bunch of marshmallows. Seeing him performing heroic feats in live action would be far fetched at best , ridiculous at worst. Even if the live action commercial did not feature the Michelin mascot, I truly think it wouldn’t be as attention grabbing. These commercials don't look like the majority of commercials on TV. That helps them to stand out... and the quality is so high that they are surprisingly enjoyable to watch.

    The message is scaled down and simplified. It is very clear…. even if it is a bit dark in nature. The quantitative information offered at the end of the ads sticks with me.

    That clarity combined with the look overall makes the commercials tremendously effective.

    I don’t think that the commercials are geared towards children. There is a dark, foreboding vein that runs through them. That being said, Michelin Man appearing in the knick of time to save the day does tap into some childhood psychology. It’s similar to cartoons, super hero comics, and fairy tales. It also harkens back to childhood with the notion of a larger-than-life individual watching over and protecting you— reminiscent of the attentive, protective gaze of a parent or guardian. They subtly insinuate Michelin tires will provide that reassurance and sense of security. That in my opinion, is appealing to people of any age.

    The psychological undercurrent is only slightly perceptible. The facts and figures stated at the end of the commercials “Michelin tires help you stop 14 feet shorter/ 29 feet sooner” solidify the message and the feelings implied visually.


    The video discussed in the Media Post article is available on Youtube now.

  4. Marybel

    I think that this commercial has something different from all the commercials that have been done with cartoons. In my opinion this ad is not targeted to children, the fact that they are using cartoons doesn´t always mean that is for children.

    I actually kind of like the ad I think it catches the attention of the person across the tv, its well done and explain the key message perfectly.

    Great idea from Michelin

  5. Johanna

    I am wondering if the objective of this cartoon ad is to follow the current superhero trend in Entertainment movies and products. The video is absolutely well done and it definitely catches my attention.

    On the other hand, as we discussed in class regarding if an ad was effective or not, this ad doesn't convince me to keep purchasing my tires at Michelin.
    Michelin had a solid client database and this ad will entertain their existing customers but not sure it would attract new customers or increase the purchase frequency of existing customers.

    When it comes to advertise tires, cars, can we combine security with cartoon? Especially when we target adults?

    See you in class!

  6. I added a new comment after seeing the new ad, and reading others articles.

    This time, no animals are involved in the new ad! You can stop 29 feet shorter! And Michelin still "changes everything," even the weather...

    I also read an article on how the cartoon "Cars 2" is used as a mercandise mover. The characters have been licenced for crackers, tissues, shampoos, or other things, so knowing that the original film has driven almost $10 billion in global merchandise sales, the commercial for Michelin would bee much more powerful if Michelin can go with a proposition that says "we're going to be about 'Cars 2'." Multibranding (with this cartoon) would be a great opportunity. Moreover, as the characters are cars, it is easy to make them meet the Michelin Man.