Data + Design Project

A Duck is Different than a Buck: 50s Ethyl Gasoline Ads

Thursday 02.21.2013 , Posted by
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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.

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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.

Ethyl Gasoline Ads from the 1950s 1

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Via reddit

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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