How About A Tasty Crude Oil Salad From Shell?

Before we had slick and savvy advertising campaigns like the Singimals and the Sticky-Bottomed-Bears, Madison Avenue pumped out some truly demented shlock like Shell’s “oil salad” one-pager from the December 22, 1947 issue of Life. Yummy! Serve me up a salad of asphalt!

1947 Shell Research ad touts a tasty salad of rock and asphalt [Climate Progress]


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  1. minjche says:

    It bugs me how in old ads they have the first lines of paragraphs indented.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Well, it Is proper writing technique. The first line of paragraphs are SUPPOSED to be indented.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      I suppose it also bugs you that the text isn’t in Helvetica or Tahoma. Ah, well.

  2. GuJiaXian says:

    Other than not meeting today’s media-centric advertising expectations, what’s wrong with this ad? Perhaps I’m missing it. (I’m not being sarcastic…I really don’t get it.)

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      What I always find interesting, looking at old ads, is how much type there is… like they expect their audience to actually read and learn something from the ad. Also not being sarcastic, its just the way it was. They actually try to explain hey, this is why our product is better, instead of relying on subconscious cues and reactions.

      • GuJiaXian says:

        Very true. Of course, there are still adverts like this today (specifically those that try to look like newspaper or magazine articles with “Advertisement” printed in 5-point type at the top).

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        We often say these kinds of things (you don’t seem like you are) with the implied statement being “and now we’re so dumb, we can’t pay attention to something so wordy.” But I think it comes down to that marketers just weren’t as good at their jobs back then – a few big, emotional words and a pretty picture will grab ANYONE’S attention more than 250 words in 8-point font and a graph will. It doesn’t matter how smart that person is.

        Also, fifty years ago, audio (and, eventually, video/film) ads depended a lot more on jingles than they do now. Tchaikovsky, they ain’t.

        • KyBash says:

          The marketers were very smart and very in tune with their target consumers. People at the time wanted more information immediately available. They wanted to feel like a salesman was explaining things rather than depending on flash and glitter. It gave them more of a connection to the product.

          • Jezz1226 says:

            Right, I’d also have to imagine that with the internet and other technology available today anyone that wanted this sort of information could fairly easily find it on there own. It just doesn’t seem as necessary today.

          • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

            That is true – that ad might be their only shot of ever reaching that consumer, since advertising was less prevalent, so they wanted to do more things with each ad.

            Having said that, the classic campaigns from back then were things like the Burma Shave road ads, the Coca-Cola campaigns (excluding the wordy ones where they were still trying to sell Coke as a medicine), so on. Or maybe those are just the ones WE remember because we don’t want to deal with all those extra words…?

  3. Hungry Dog says:

    Hopefully my family will save a small fortune in funeral costs with all these ingested preservatives.

  4. dreamfish says:

    Were they trying to make it look like caviar?

  5. Hoss says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any gasoline…it’s an asphalt blend

  6. Saltpork says:

    mmm…my favorite morning treat…Sugar lumps in molasses.

    What?! That shit is asphalt?
    You just ruined my breakfast Shell!

  7. CBenji says:

    Interesting. I wonder if they made it by hand back then. Of course didn’t they make margarine with petroleum products for years??

  8. williamroy says:

    This ad would have worked better had the illustration used a cool-looking commercial kitchen and lots of mysterious ingredients being carefully added to a cauldron by a cadre of white-jacketed-and-hatted chefs. As it is, the dainty salad-mixing pic doesn’t really match the geeky detail of the accompanying copy. I fault whoever wrote in the lead sentence “…Blend and mix like a salad.” Totally off the mark.