Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Comic Book Ads: Gillette Bicycle Tires!

Time to look at some more ads from Golden Age Fawcett Comics, and this time around, we're looking at Gillette Bicycle Tires ads! But first, a bit of backstory... since many of you may be scratching your heads thinking, "When did Gillette make bike tires? I thought they made razors?"

Gillette Safety Tire Company, Inc. was founded by Raymond B. Gillette in 1917, after Gillette and his partner, brother H.B. Gillette, invented a safety interliner that prevented blowouts and punctures in auto tires, and couldn't get anyone interested in manufacturing them, due to the difficulty in manufacturing for the various tire sizes used in the day. The company's first plant was built in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and by 1931, they were one of the world's largest suppliers of original equipment tires, producing not only their own brand, but also Ward, Atlas, and U.S. Royal tires. When Gillette died in 1934, the plant was producing 8,000 tires, 7,000 tubes and 4,500 bike tires a day, and employed 2,000 people. It was so important to the city that the entire city shut down for 30 minutes to honor his passing.

That same year, U.S. Rubber Company purchased a large interest in the Gillette Tire Company, and by 1940, had completely taken it over. In the 1960s, the company was renamed Uniroyal, and the Eau Claire plant was closed in 1992.

Now that you know the background, let's check out the ads!
I'm not sure why Gillette used a bear in their logo... it doesn't seem to really fit, unless one is taking into account that circuses used to have bears riding bicycles in their performances. Anyway, the initial Gillette Bicycle Tires ads in Fawcett Comics featured "Bear Bike Facts," with the Bear himself prominently displayed, as seen above!

Judging from the two-color printing on both of these examples, it seemed they were going for inside cover spots on the ad placement, but that wouldn't last forever!

As you can see, here's a full-color ad with the Bear, although these may have been outside back cover spots at times, there were definitely interior ads as well.

At some point, someone decided the Bear wasn't working in their ads, although they did continue featuring Bike Tire Facts in their advertising:

Next time around: Fawcett Comics House Ads!

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