'Mean' Joe Greene's Coca-Cola Commercial Never Gets Old

Published January 29, 2020

Rumble The Super Bowl is the most-watched television event in the United States. The game is the obvious draw, but it's the commercials and halftime show performances that bring millions of casual fans to the game.

Back on October 1, 1979, Coca-Cola first aired a commercial starring Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle "Mean" Joe Greene and a 9-year-old superfan played by Tommy Okon. The story the advertisement told stood the test of time, and anyone who watches it today gets all the feels when Mean Joe famously calls out, "Hey kid, catch!"

Heading for Steelers' locker room, a young fan offers to help the NFL Hall of Famer. The boy tells 'Mean' Joe that he thinks the NFL star is the best ever and offers him a bottle of Coke. After downing the entire thing, Greene tosses his iconic jersey to the kid. The iconic Super Bowl ad puts a smile on everyone's face to this day.

The commercial still ranks as one of the greatest Super Bowl ads in history. Not only did Coca-Cola capitalize at the height of the Steelers' dynasty, which culminated with the team's fourth title of the 1970s in Super Bowl XIV, but Mean Joe's commercial famously re-aired during that very game. The Super Bowl commercial won a Clio Award for one of the best commercials of 1979, and "Have a Coke and a Smile" stamped the iconic ad campaign and jingle as one of the most-effective ever, thanks to the writing of Penny Hawkey and director Roger Mosconi.

In 2017, the co-stars reunited at Apogee Stadium in Texas, where Greene recalled chugging 18 bottles of Coke before getting the commercial right.

For someone with a "mean" reputation on the field, the commercial showed that football players, even a Hall of Famer and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, are nice guys with a softer side off the field.

During Super Bowl XLIII, Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu brought the great commercial back to life with a few hilarious twists for the company's Coke Zero products.

The Super Bowl's greatest commercials are more than just good laughs and selling products. The best have an emotional connection, which remind us all that it's only a football game, and even tough guy football stars aren't any more important than a young kid looking to dish out a smile.

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