COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 25, 2004) — The U.S. Sportsmen's Association (USSA), a non-profit group involved in efforts to defend wildlife conservation programs and outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing and trapping, has called on its members to protest Michelin North America Inc.'s support of the American Humane Association (AHA).
Michelin, through its Bibendum Bobblehead doll program, recently announced its support of American Humane's Red Star Emergency Services, which responds in time of disasters — both manmade and natural — to protect animals left vulnerable, lost, and alone.
To support the program, Michelin is offering a collectible bobblehead doll featuring the Michelin Man “Bibendum” and his dog; $5 from the sale of each doll directly benefits Red Star Emergency Services. Michelin sells the bobbleheads for $17.75 each via the Internet. The Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker also is contributing two four-wheel-drive vehicles for the Red Star emergency response team.
The Red Star sponsorship was launched in early May in conjunction with Michelin's new advertising that celebrates the bond between animals and humans. In a 30-second spot titled “Lost Friend,” the Michelin Man relies on the rugged performance of Michelin light truck tires as he overcomes difficult terrain, fallen tree limbs and stormy weather to find his lost pet a dog — which shares a striking resemblance to Bibendum.
In voicing its objection to Michelin's support of Red Star, the USSA calls the AHA a “national anti-hunting group.”
While acknowledging that Red Star “might be a legitimate animal welfare program,” USSA President Bud Pidgeon said, “Sportsmen must make Michelin aware that every dollar corporate America provides to fund animal rights groups' programs represents money that is freed up for use in national campaigns to end hunting and trapping.”
The USSA says the AHA opposes all hunting and trapping and lists several anti-hunting positions the AHA supports, including bans on black bear hunting and trapping in a number of states. The USSA claims to represent more than 1.5 million members.
A Michelin spokesman said the company will take the USSA's position into consideration in the future, but for now it will continue to support the Red Star initiative as outlined earlier. “We wanted to support a program that supports people and animals,” the spokesman said, pointing out Red Star is staffed by volunteers.
He said the company is responding to each complaint individually. The company thus far has received no complaints from dealers, he added.
Michelin also has created the Red Start National Responders Community Service Award, an annual award to recognize communities that have risen to the challenge of helping animals in need during a crisis.