Every hero has their thing: Superman protects the innocent, Batman punishes the guilty, Wonder Woman holds everyone to a higher moral standard. Then, there are the heroes whose raison d’être is to make sure you eat enough bran… Welcome to Ten Things!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and Super Sugar Bear, Presents:
TEN SUPERHERO ADVERTISING MASCOTS!
10) ERIN E-SURANCE
Insurance company mascots are a dime a dozen; you can’t so much as swing a cat without seeing a gecko, duck or strange woman in a smock who want to get you signed up for a term life policy. Erin was no different, save for being a pink-haired hottie in a skin-tight leather suit. Her super secret agent adventures had an audience of enthusiastic fans, but it seemed few of them were interested in the product. Rather, Ms. E-surance was a victim of the infamous internet Rule 34, and the various shades of pornography featuring the intrepid hero led to the company retiring her as mascot in 2010.
9) “THE LONE RANGER”
Throughout the 1950s, Clayton Moore was best known as The Lone Ranger, writer Fran Striker’s iconic western hero. Though his official tenure in the role ended with a 1958 movie, Moore enjoyed many years of public appearances until a 1979 lawsuit from copyright holders forbade him from trading on the image of the character he helped make famous. Clayton responded by replacing The Lone Ranger’s black mask with a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses, even appearing as part of the company’s “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?” ad campaign. Moore eventually won a lawsuit allowing him to resume his public appearances well into the 1990s, but the image of the Ranger in sunglasses was cemented in the minds of many 80s kids.
8) THE AAU SHUPERSTAR
WHO IN THE WORLD DO YOU THIIIINK YOU AAARRRRRE?
Andrew Lloyd Webber aside, the AAU Shuperstar repped the amazing benefits of AAU sneakers against The Sinister Sole, Missile-Toe and other terribly punny villains in a series of comic book ads during the disco era. Though I’ve never seen a pair of AAU shoes in the wild, his comic-book appearances are highly memorable, even decades later.
7) VOLTO FROM MARS
During my childhood, a concerted effort was made to ban various cartoons that served only as ads for toy versions of the characters. The 1940s were a simpler time, when the idea of creating a superhero solely to sell breakfast cereal was no problem at all. Thus, Volto arrived on Earth in 1945 with a desire to fight bad guys and eat Grape Nuts, and unlike John Nada, he never runs out of bubblegum… Err, cereal. Since his appearances were paid ads, Volto appeared sporadically in the comics of several different Golden Age publishers before disappearing in 1946.
6) THE CREST TEAM
Another well-remembered bit of commercial stupidity from my childhood (back in the days where you couldn’t skip or fast-forward through the ads), the Crest Team protected Toothopolis from the evil Cavity Creeps. With some sort of super-car and the power of Fluoristan on their side, these perfect super-folk had the best-lookin’ smiles this side of the Osmond Family, and you have to give them props for taking on hideous monsters with only giant toothbrushes and the recommendation of 4 out of 5 dentists.
5) CAPTAIN CITRUS
Originally envisioned as an orange in a cape, Captain Citrus got a full-on Avengers makeover in 2014. With the help of Marvel Comics, the good Cap’n became a begoggled defender of right and vitamin C, even appearing in promotional comics alongside Captain America and company. It’s unclear whether or not Captain Citrus is helping the Florida Department of Citrus increase orange juice consumption, but at least he’s not a chubby cartoon mascot any longer…
The mascot for Quaker Oats’ breakfast cereal of the same name, Quake’s cartoon adventures were put together by Jay Ward and company, the minds behind ‘Rocky And Bullwinkle’ and ‘Dudley Do-Right.’ With the distinctive baritone of William Conrad behind him, Quake seemed to have everything in his corner, but still repeatedly was gotten the better of by alien Quisp, whose cereal was on the shelves at the same time. Eventually, Quaker asked kids to choose which brand stayed on the shelves, and the alien once again got the edge, with Quake being discontinued in ’72.
3) BUD MAN
The “Dauntless Defender Of Quality,” Bud Man was seemingly everywhere during the 70s and 80s (though that perception may be colored by my adult relatives’ preference of the beer that bears his name.) First popping up in the late ’60s, Bud Man memorabilia includes beer steins, key chains and more stickers than you can shake a stick at, many of which still go for big bucks in the secondary markets. Though not as omnipresent as he was during my youth, a quick search will show that Bud Man memorabilia is available even today, even though his only real super-power seems to be hang-gliding in long johns and galoshes.
Spawned from the 1990s, Pepsiman was reputedly designed by Travis Charest (best remembered, at least by me, for his work on WildCATs from Image Comics), appearing most in Japanese advertisements. His primary power is arriving just in the nick of time to provide refreshing Pepsi to folks in their time of need and was popular enough to rate his own video game circa 1999. Like every good super, he even had a female counterpart, Pepsiwoman, who shilled specifically for Pepsi Twist and wore a lemon hat.
1) CAPTAIN TOOTSIE
Originally created by Captain Marvel artist CC Beck, Captain Tootsie was somewhat similar to Volto From Mars, in that he used the candy from which he took his name for a quick energy boost while in action. Unlike Volto, though, Captain Tootsie actually headlined his own comic book from a company that you’ve almost certainly never heard of. A two-fisted adventurer, the good Captain disappeared by the mid-1950s, though writer Roy Thomas was enough of a fan to use his costume as the visual basis for a later character at Marvel Comics, Doc Samson.
Feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter (or check out the full archive here!) As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, especially since morphing your product into a caped crusader has become a well-explored trope in the advertising world…
Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!