Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial (1979): An Iconic Ad’s Enduring Legacy

Ah, the Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial (1979)–a classic piece of advertising that’s still remembered and loved four decades later! This timeless commercial captured the hearts of millions and left an indelible mark on both TV advertising history and the Coca-Cola brand. Featuring the legendary NFL player Joe Greene, it showcased his softer side through an interaction with a young fan, which to this day is considered a masterstroke.

So, what made this particular ad so unforgettable? It managed to epitomize Coca-Cola’s message of friendliness and sharing happiness while humanizing a tough sports icon. The commercial not only highlighted the product, but it also told a heartwarming story that still resonates today. The ad’s simplicity and emotional connection arguably contributed to the lasting success of Coca-Cola as a brand.

Looking back, I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia surrounding the Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial (1979). It serves as a powerful reminder of advertising’s potential impact when it’s done with the right balance of storytelling, product placement, and emotional appeal. In an age where advertisements have become more elaborate and visually stimulating, this iconic ad demonstrates that sometimes, less really is more.

A Look Back at the Iconic 1979 Coca-Cola Ad

It’s hard to believe that the Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial (1979) has been around for over four decades! I’ll take you on a brief journey back in time to discover what made this ad so successful and memorable.

The commercial, aired during Super Bowl XIII, featured NFL legend “Mean” Joe Greene, a defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Greene earned his nickname due to his fierce reputation on the field. But this ad showed his softer side, as it depicted a heartwarming exchange between Greene and a young fan. In the commercial, a little boy offers a Coca-Cola to an injured and exhausted Greene, who then takes a drink, feels revived, and tosses his game-worn jersey to the boy as a thank-you.

The ad immediately resonated with audiences and became a major success for Coca-Cola. It was so impactful that it:

  • Won the 1979 Cannes Lions Grand Prix for best commercial
  • Became one of the most beloved commercials of all time
  • Got frequently referenced in popular culture

Viewers loved the genuine emotion and connection featured in the ad, demonstrating the power of Coca-Cola as a brand that could bring people together. As a result, the ad played a significant role in Coca-Cola’s advertising history and even spurred a series of similar commercials that took inspiration from the “Mean Joe Greene” ad.

Some noteworthy aspects of this commercial include its:

  1. Cast: Joe Greene was a major draw, as he was and still is considered one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. Casting a prominent figure like Greene conveyed a strong message to viewers.
  2. Storytelling: The ad was simple yet effective, focusing on the touching moment shared between Greene and the boy. By showing Greene’s vulnerability, the commercial humanized him and elicited an emotional response from the audience.
  3. Timing: Super Bowl XIII was a fitting stage for the ad, as millions of viewers were glued to their TVs. The reach provided by the Super Bowl helped elevate the ad to iconic status.
Key AspectDescription
CastFeatured “Mean” Joe Greene, a highly respected NFL player
StorytellingCreated a humanizing, emotional narrative
TimingAired during Super Bowl XIII, maximizing reach

To sum it up, the Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial (1979) will always hold a special place in advertising history. It demonstrated the power of strong storytelling, emotional appeal, and strategic timing, proving that a simple ad with heart can have a lasting impact. And even after 40 years, this commercial continues to resonate with generations of viewers.

Mean Joe Greene

The Production and Impact of ‘Mean Joe Greene’

When it comes to memorable commercials, Coca-Cola’s 1979 “Mean Joe Greene” spot stands out. The ad features football legend “Mean Joe Greene” and a young fan sharing a touching moment. This moment further solidified Coca-Cola’s position as an iconic brand, but how did it come together and what impact did it have? Let’s dive in.

It all started with the creative team from McCann Erickson advertising agency, who developed the concept for the commercial. They aimed to showcase Coca-Cola as a way to bring people together, demonstrated through the unlikely friendship between a tough football player and an awe-struck kid. Filming took place at a stadium in Mount Vernon, New York, where Greene played himself and an unknown child actor took on the role of the youngster.

Some interesting facts about the ad’s production include:

  • The commercial was shot in 35mm film for a more cinematic look.
  • Greene, who was recovering from an injury, was in real pain during the shoot.
  • Each take required Greene to throw his jersey at the boy, which took a total of 18 times before the perfect shot was captured.

Upon its release, the commercial became an instant hit. Televised during the October 1, 1979 NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Houston Oilers, it immediately gained widespread critical acclaim and public affection. The ad went on to win a prestigious Clio Award in 1980 for Best Ad, and was even parodied in an episode of The Simpsons.

Impact-wise, the “Mean Joe Greene” commercial achieved several key outcomes:

  • It increased Coca-Cola’s brand recognition.
  • It helped humanize Greene and other athletes, demonstrating the power of sportsmanship and compassion.
  • It emphasized the company’s emphasis on fostering connections between people.

As a testament to its iconic status, the “Mean Joe Greene” ad has become a vital part of both Coca-Cola’s history and advertising lore. It remains a timeless example of how a simple yet powerful message—when expertly executed—can create an emotional connection with an audience and leave a lasting impression.

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