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Product as Superhero

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Cleans your kitchen in a single bound!

"Ah, [Cyborg Cider-Man] is a soda superhero. Sometimes, it's easy to spot sleazy advertising."

A variety of commercials where the product, a Mascot or the product as a mascot is presented as a superhero, fighting against or protecting you from something. Sometimes, they are explicitly fighting Talking Pests that metaphorically represent a real-life nuisance.

This can be played straight, where the product really is a superhero, in the context of the ad, or silly, where the product is acting like a superhero, but probably isn't.

Expect to see the product in question flying around with a cape billowing behind it, and a classic tights and underwear on the outside combo. In the case of dental hygiene products, you will likely see microscopic toothpaste superheroes fighting gingivitis inside a person's mouth. Of course, the question arises as to what happens to these miniature people when you spit the toothpaste out.


  • Showing that this is Older Than They Think, Captain Tootsie was a guy who appeared as far back as 1943. A mascot for Tootsie Rolls, he was a square-jawed, muscular do-gooder (you know, kind of like that other hero who was a hit at the time) who appeared in single-page adventures in titles published by Archie, Fawcett, and Sunday newspapers. He even had his own title which, sadly, only lasted two issues.
  • UFO Kamen Yakisoban, a tokusatsu hero who starred in commercials for Nissin's "UFO" brand instant yakisoba, and fought against the evil "Kettler." He had his own Beat 'em Up game for the Super Famicom, a Distaff Counterpart named Yakisobany, and even starred in a Direct to Video movie. Twenty years later, they had him return... only to be shunned by the modern people and turn evil, only to be faced by new heroes themed around the same instant yakisoba brand.
  • Listerine mouthwash: originally played straight, or somewhat so — a computer-animated Listerine bottle boxing in the ring, fighting a shadowy monster, or swinging through the jungle to the tune of Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" is hard to consider "played straight" — but now uses a guy in an obviously homemade bottle costume with a toothbrush sidekick.
    • There's also the trenchcoat-wearing "Agent Blue".
  • In an episode of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, contestants charged with producing a live billboard for laundry stain remover Tide to Go won by depicting the product with a cape and boxing gloves to "knock out stains." (Incidentally, the boxing conceit was once used in a computer-animated spot for... Listerine. It all comes back to Listerine, folks.)
    • And used disastrously in the UK version of The Apprentice, in which one team tried to sell a cereal using the superhero Pants Man. Whose superpower was putting his underwear on the right way round. Amazingly, the idiot responsible wasn't sacked for another two weeks.
    • Wait! He was channeling Koiwai! He should have won on that alone!
  • In one stage of the game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, a violinist with indigestion takes a health drink, and its effect is represented by little superheroes doing battle with the germs attacking his stomach lining. The western remake, Elite Beat Agents, used a troop of sexy nurses as a more general personification of an athlete's immune system.
  • "Man from Glad! Man from Glad!"
  • KOOL-AID SMASH! KOOL-AID IS THE STRONGEST ONE THERE IS! ...well, yeah. The Kool-Aid Man probably qualifies as a superhero insofar as The Incredible Hulk does — what with his tendency to smash through walls to bring you that much-needed refreshment! OH, YEAH! The people over at Applegeeks seem to think he would be a good serial killer too.
  • Ajax had a white tornado.
    • They used to have a white knight who zapped clothes clean with beams from his magic lance.
  • The Jolly Green Giant used to grow vegetables in a valley in the middle of who-knows-where. Though he seldom if ever did anything, a guy that size is still a force to be reckoned with.
  • Mr. Clean is able to make any place bright and shiny, even if it's a crack house in Detroit or Bin Laden's Cave in Afghanistan. For extra credit, where does Mr. Clean wear his earring?
    • In his ear.
  • Scrubbing Bubbles has sentient brushes that have cleaning power.
  • Don't forget Erin Esurance. She actually got a Product Placement cameo spot in Who Wants to Be a Superhero?.
  • This trope was parodied in a Cartoon Network original animated short, "Fungus Among Us", featuring filth-fighting superheroes such as "Captain Americlean".
  • Trojan Man!
  • Rubik, the Amazing Cube was a cartoon from the 80s about an anthropomorphic Rubik's Cube that could fly and stuff...but only once someone had solved it.
  • This was parodied in Monty Python's Flying Circus by a series of animated sketches in which each advert's content is the metaphor used in the previous one: for example, "American Capitalism" is sold as though it were a brand of toothpaste, with Chinese Communists causing decay to teeth ("imagine this tooth is a small Asian country").
  • The mascot of Mr Muscle used to be a scrawny, weedy nerd who was too weak to clean anything via elbow grease so needed powerful cleaning products to do the job for him. A recent Retool turned him into a smug, chiselled Science Hero with an American accent.
  • The superheroes and villains Skechers created based on their shoes... which then spawned a cartoon adaptation, amazingly enough. The superhero is Z-Strap, whose power has to do with velcro straps on his sneakers, letting him get dressed really quickly. What a surprise that the villain is "The Tangler."
  • "RAAAIIIID!" the bugs shriek. And then the spray can with arms — very muscular arms — reaches up with one to tap the spray button, spewing poison vapors, and "Kills Bugs Dead." There was also an animated Orkin commercial that depicted the exterminator in a drawing style reminiscent of 60s superhero cartoons, wielding a deadly sprayer to kill cockroaches that often seemed bigger than he was. And a later, live-action/CGI ad portrayed a bug exterminator marching into a house in powered armor; a heads-up display and laser targeting pinpoint the roach, and then the man fires jets of poison from an Arm Cannon. "Target terminated."
  • While not official (it started as an in-joke on the Japanese image board 2chan), Fight! Kikkoman is a parody of this concept applied to Kikkoman soy sauce, and simply must be seen to be believed.
  • During the period when Super Sugar Crisp was changing its name to Super Golden Crisp, the commercial mascot (Sugar Bear) gained the power to transform himself into Super Bear. Super Bear was less like a superhero than a really big mean scary grizzly, however, which probably didn't go over too well with the young kids that were the cereal's target demographic.
  • The Powerpuff Girls appear in this Got Milk? commercial as a tie in to their movie.
  • At one point, the TV ads for Mighty Dog™ brand canned dog food went with a flying dog wearing a cape. He was supposed to be Mighty Dog (like Mighty Mouse, geddit?).
  • Bardahl advertised its engine-cleaners in the style of Dick Tracy—you had villains such as "Gummy Rings" causing problems until the Bardahl Detective showed up and set things right.
  • Pepsiman, star of a series of Japanese Pepsi commercials in the late 1990s with effects by Industrial Light & Magic. Pepsiman was a masked runner answering the call of thirsty consumers anywhere, magically delivering them Pepsi-Cola with "Schwaaa!" action (as the English blurb for his action figure puts it) and usually suffering Amusing Injuries on the side. Like UFO Kamen Yakisoban, he too got his own video game for the PlayStation, also in Japan.
  • In the 70s and early 80s, Crest toothpaste had a series of cartoon ads where a city called Toothopolis (a city surrounded by a wall of giant - but very shiny - teeth) was constantly under attack by ugly "Cavity Creeps" ("We make holes in teeth"), only to be fought off by the city's heroic protectors, armed with tooth-hygiene-themed weaponry. (Crest, naturally.)
  • Aquafresh toothpaste has Captain Aquafresh, a Superman expy whose costume and hair are in the three Aquafresh stripe colours, symbolically thumping sugary foods.
  • Deconstructed (like everything else) in Watchmen with Dollar Bill, a superhero created by a nationwide bank for PR purposes and to ride the superhero fad, the idea being that people would feel safer at a bank with its own superhero. This all collapsed one day, however, when Dollar Bill failed to stop a robbery at a bank he was guarding and met his end when one of the robbers shot him in the head. Though very little is shown what happened after that, no other company-created superheroes existed in the Watchmen world after that, suggesting the incident hurt the bank so much for other companies to avoid the concept.
  • Captain Tax Time for Tax Time Tax Services, a one-shot comic published in Canada in the 1980's to advertise a tax revenue service.
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. has Cyborg Cider-Man, the mascot of a soda drink that Saiki's Tagalong Kid neighbor adores.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultraman Zearth was initially created to advertise Idemitsu Kosan's petroleum brand of the same name. He fights against Alien Benzene, as the petroleum brand boasted less than 1% benzene content.
    • Ultraman Nice was created to advertise Bandai's Ultra Series merchandise and toys, making this an odd example where a superhero was created to advertise another superhero's merchandise.
    • On a non-official note, buying a Garmin gives one the ability to transform into an Ultraman-esque superhero to fight the evil Mapasaurus.
  • The ads for the Indian antivirus software Protegent feature a mascot named Proto, who is a personification of the software as a superhero (and a Whyatt recolor).
  • In RoboCop: The Series a cartoon superhero called Commander Cash and his sidekick, Major Marketing appeared in ads for Omni Consumer Products.
  • Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Rice Crispies' gnome/elf mascots were reimagined as Superman Substitutes for a while in the early '90s.
  • Johnny Turbo was an attempt to create one for the TurboGrafx-16. Johnny would fight against the robot goons of FEKA while promoting the console.


Video Example(s):


The Powerpuff Girls - Got Milk

Three separate commercials promote the Got Milk products, starring Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup from "The Powerpuff Girls".

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ProductAsSuperhero

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