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July 23, 2008

Women Love the Michelin Man

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As you know, I was at BlogHer last week. And another conference means another tote bag filled with goodies that you have to lug around. The BlogHer bag was like the typical SES schwag bag, only cooler and prettier and more useful. There were pens and shirts and books and DVDs and bottles of water and a magic 8-ball and a T-Mobile HotSpot card [which Lisa gifted to me! -Virginia] and stickers and lots of other neat stuff. One of the most random things I came across in that tote was the Michelin man tire gauge. Yes, a tire gauge. Given to a bunch of women. I was confused too. I even Twittered it:

It just seemed odd and out of place. I didn’t get it. Until Saturday morning.

Early Saturday, before the Hybrid Media: How We Will All Work Together to Build a Converged-Media Future keynote, the audience was Michelin-ized by a female Michelin rep. She stood up and gave the audience a quick talk about some of the stuff Michelin was doing and how BlogHer and her team actually have a lot in common.

Here were some of the highlights:

  • Michelin is providing more than 200 tons of carbon offsetting to make up for the environmental impact of everyone flying across the country to attend BlogHer.
  • Michelin cares about your children’s safety. They’re dedicated to it.
  • Michelin has just announced the new Latitude Tour tire designed to increase fuel-efficiency and save you money.
  • Michelin wanted to be at BlogHer because they care about women. By using the tire gauge left in your tote bag, you can check your tires and increase fuel efficiency.

There was cheering when she was done. And when the cheering stopped, a video showing the Michelin Man’s adorable trek to San Francisco was played. There were shots of him riding trolleys and posing with the founders of BlogHer. And then the Michelin Man himself made an appearance and ran through the crowd hugging ladies and posing for pictures.

There was more cheering. And Michelin Man groping.

The night before I may not have understood what Michelin was doing at BlogHer and questioned why they put some sort of funky tire pressure thingy into my bag. But sitting in that ballroom before the keynote, I totally got it. Well done, Michelin.

Michelin knows the spending power of women. They know the lengths people will go to keep their kids safe and to save money as gas prices go through the roof. Michelin crashed BlogHer and appealed to these needs. They had just made the marketing win of a lifetime by being smart enough to attend an event other big brands would have feared to go near, especially if you’re a company selling tires.

I have to give Michelin credit for going after and winning over an audience that may not have been the obvious target. But they studied the women of BlogHer, found out what they were interested in (the environment, keeping their kids safe, etc.), used the tactics they knew would appeal to them, and launched a really powerful campaign. And the reaction in the blogosphere has been overwhelmingly positive. The entire thing was twittered, there are videos on YouTube of women squealing over their chance to meet the Michelin Man and bloggers are happy.

Over at Back in Skinny Jeans (an awesome blog, BTW), Stephanie Quilao writes:

Putting on my old marketing hat, the companies that need to get themselves in front of the BlogHer audience are the typically male messaged products which more and more women are buying themselves now like cars, tires, home improvement, insurance, and personal finance…Michelin was a big sponsor, and I’m telling you more women will be looking at their tires because hey, they are paying attention to our needs. I recently had to buy tires myself, and I didn’t have a clue. But after talking to the Michelin folks, I’m definitely going to look at them next time I need tires.

That’s powerful.

In all honestly, when it comes to my car, I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know how it runs. I don’t know what I should be doing to make it more efficient. I just know that once a month I have to put gas in it (I live less than 2 miles from work. Go ahead, hate me) and that sometimes it needs an oil change.

It’s important that you know your target audience and what you need to be doing to address their needs and keep them happy. But you also want to be thinking of ways to bring in outsiders. I am not the target audience for Michelin tires. But Michelin figured out a way to market to me in a way that was genuine and authentic. And it worked. For me, new tires now means Michelins.

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One response to “Women Love the Michelin Man”

  1. Stephanie Quilao writes:

    Thanks for the props Lisa!…In 2006 when GM brought a fleet of their convertible Saturn SKY cars out to BlogHer and let us drive them in the street not just around the hotel parking lot, I thought wow! this is marketing brilliance. I and many BlogHers after that wanted to buy those cars and if we couldn’t we sure did blog tons about it, and what powerful word-of-mouth marketing from high influencers Saturn got out of that.

    Women are the Chief Purchasing Officers of their home, and they heavily influence the purchase of high ticket items like cars, electronics, home improvement, and financial programs, so it still boggles me that many advertisers don’t get that. The BlogHer conference is a target rich environment to reach online high influencers in one place. It’s a marketers dream come true, and these blogging ladies will reward you with their time and attention if you speak to them and what they care about.



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