The oldest and most prominent restaurants guide in Europe, the Michelin, is also the first – or among the first – successful branded content stories. The guide was published in 1900 by the Michelin brothers, André and Édouard, who intended to arouse the demand for cars, and inherently for the car tires they were manufacturing.
The first editions included various maps and technical instructions for motorists. The guide started giving stars to restaurants after World War I, with the contribution of a team of inspectors they had hired for the publication. It was given away for free until 1920, when the Michelin brothers realized “man truly respects what he pays for” and started to charge for the guide.
In recent times, the Michelin guide expanded with various international or specialized editions, plus Internet spin-off’s. The sternness of the guide’s judgement of restaurants is famous; there are only several dozens restaurants in the World with a three-stars rating out of a total of almost 27,000 included in the various editions. After World War II, the authors of the guide decided to only award one or two stars for a while, due to the harsh economic conditions which couldn’t result in very good quality restaurants.