In a time long before Photoshop, when advertising departments looked something like the set of Mad Men and every piece of art was hand-crafted, this advertising campaign from the Ethyl Corporation was highly ambitious and still succeeds in capturing our eye. The once giant Ethyl Corporation is a manufacturer of fuel additives designed to stop engines from knocking better than fuel without – a point driven home by this vintage series of ads… after all, a collie is very different than a cauliflower.
The ads cleverly show two drawings which appear almost identical in shape, yet represent two kinds of plants or animals when compared. The attention to detail between the two comparative illustrations is commendable and surely got the attention of magazine readers at the time.
The ironic part about this whole campaign? The secret main ingredient of their additive was lead, a chemical now known to be a health and environmental hazard, resulting in neurotoxicity in humans and other vertebrates. So it turns out, a buck is a lot like a duck after all.