When you get right down to it, superheroes make the perfect pitchmen. They’re trusted servants of the public good who are always on the side of goodness and morality, but they’re also wholly owned by corporations that are usually willing to use that fictional integrity to market pizzas or credit cards. That odd disconnect occasionally leads to some pretty weird stuff, and rarely are they weirder than in a series of ads from 1946 in which Superman endorsed Conoco’s N-Tane Gasoline.
Recently unearthed by artist Jon Morris at his Tumblr, the ads are weird not because of the product Superman is endorsing, but by the approach, which claims the gas is so good that Superman will be jealous of you for buying it. It’s… pretty weird.
In addition to the strange premise, these things are full of amazing vintage ad copy. The one above features the promise of “brimming new day mileage in every atom,” while this next one goes so far as to refer to the gas as “all-powerful, but hushed!”
And of course, “It votes liberal on mileage”:
Still, much of what’s notable about these ads is right there in the bizarre premise of wanting gasoline that will allow you to humiliate and show up Superman at every curve, conquering his strength with your ability to get up to six miles per gallon and forcing him to bow in acknowledgement of your car’s superiority. Clearly, they were doing everything they could to corner that lucrative Lex Luthor demogaphic.