Saturday, December 3, 2005

Michelin tries to appease angry Koreans

Facing criticism for being the last hold-out not to back out of sponsoring MBC's controversial exposé on Dr. Hwang Woosuk's cloning breakthroughs, Michelin Tires is trying to reach out to its Korean consumers with the introduction of a new, Korea-friendly spokeslogo: the
Michelin Baby [left].

In a massive hunt of the type usually reserved for the search for a new Dalai Lama, Michelin's French headquarters looked far and wide for an obese Korean baby with folds of fat that were precisely matched to the French company's famous cartoon logo [below].

"There was no shortage of overweight babies in Korea," said a Michelin Korea representative, identified only by her family name Kim, "given how mothers practically force-feed their children pizza and Big Macs from the moment they leave the maternity ward. But we needed one with just the right tire-like curves up and down its body."

It is hoped that the baby's cuteness, plus the fact that the French tiremaker will use a Korean as their global representative, will make uber-nationalistic Korean netizens forget that Michelin was willing to sponsor a program that aimed to bring down a world-renowned Korean icon.

Initially, Michelin had been spared the political fall-out that might come from sticking to one's principles, until outraged Netizens had wrongly spread word that Michelin was an American company, confused as they were by those pesky English-language Michelin Guides and the fact that every other dogdam fucking globo-corp is a job-destroying, rainforest-depleting, people-exploiting, corruption-causing American company. You know, like BP, Siemens, NEC, Daimler, Haier, Lonely Planet, Tesco, and Carrefour.

I must admit that prior to the MBC program hubbub, I didn't even realize Michelin was a French company. I, too, had always assumed that the Michelin Man, with his spare tire, represented the typical American who spent too much time behind the wheel, sipping Coca-Cola while munching on Doritos and donuts, with which he had become one.

I should have been clued in by the fact that back in conservative Orange County, California, Michelin products were being referred to as "Freedom Tires."


  1. I've noticed that loyalty to Korean brands weakens considerably when Koreans move overseas. In China and here in the US, I see Koreans driving Korean cars, but I also see Koreans driving Japanese or European cars.

  2. Sonagi wrote:
    Hey, that kid is missing something.

    Ha ha! That just shows exactly how precisely matched the Michelin Baby is with the Michelin Man, who you will also notice is missing something. I suspect that in both cases that something-something is lost somewhere below the folds, whatever it is.

    All of the comments to my blog are emailed to me, so when I saw your comment about something missing, "something" was in bold face, as if it might be a link to what that something might be, and I thought to myself, "Oh, no. Just what is Sonagi trying to turn my blog into?!"

  3. Look at the photo, Kushibo. The thing isn't buried in fat. There is an eerie nothingness between his legs. His thing has been airbrushed. Reminds me of the Ken doll I played with as a kid.

  4. So what you're saying, Sonagi, is that the French are trying to emasculate the Koreans? Airbrush out their manhood?

    Well, then, they're back in the doghouse.

    Or maybe the baby's a girl and doesn't have a manhood to begin with.

  5. If it's a girl, her thing has been airbrushed. I'm surprised the French would pull a stunt like this since they're always chiding Americans for our prudishness.

  6. Kushibo,

    I don't see an email link, so I'm just going to post this Yahoo story comparing attitudes towards the torture of terrorist suspects among various Western countries and South Korea:;_ylt=Amgdq_GL2NkuoZwO4D2LI6BvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

    I was astonished that the Koreans ranked the highest given that Korea has been a democracy for just one generation and given that, save for one beheading, Koreans have not been victims of recent terrorism.

  7. Genitalia-less Michelin babies immediately followed by torture justificatons? Admit it, Sonagi, you're trying to destroy my blog! ;)

    Actually, that was an interesting read and I think I will blog it today or tomorrow, answering your questions (and giving you a hat tip) in the process. Do you have a blog I can link it to, and also go to myself and make comments about, say, phlegmatic children and homeless raccoons?

    By the by, my email address is my name (the Korean word for ninety-five, in some weird coincidence) at the three-letter domain that is short for the best computer machine system in the world, or at least the best one founded by Steve Jobs. Ha! Let's see the troll robots figure out that one!

  8. I'm a blogless person. Kushibo.

    Now I know what your name means. I thought it was a Japanese word.

  9. I'm a blogless person. Kushibo.

    Did someone airbrush out your blog?

    You do leave a lot of good comments here and there, so maybe you should.

    Actually, I was discussing with another blogger or two the prospect of making a blog like Coming Anarchy, which combines opinions from several different sources and provides a daily hub for people interested in Korea-centric issues.

    I had come up with the name "sonagi consortium" before I noticed you as a prominent poster (a sonagi describing the way we post sometimes and it also being one of my favorite words in Korean); I hope you don't mind that it seems I've co-opted your name.

    Anyway, you're welcome to post there, if you like. What better place for a Sonagi than the Sonagi Consortium?

    Now I know what your name means. I thought it was a Japanese word.

    There are lots of Korean words that sound "Japanese," especially if they don't have any 'ng' in them. Sonagi is one of them, along with "taenamu," my company's name.


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