Coca-Cola’s Iconic ‘Mean’ Joe Greene Super Bowl Commercial Took Days to Film for One Ridiculous Reason

by Emily Morgan
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One of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials to ever grace viewers’ screens has to be Coca Cola’s 1980 ad. 

The ad, starring “Mean” Joe Greene, defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time, has long been considered one of the most memorable ads but for one ridiculous reason.

The Story Behind The Coca Cola Ad

Officially titled “Hey Kid, Catch!,” the commercial was one of the biggest productions for that year’s game. 

In a 1992 interview, Greene confessed that he drank 24 Cokes during one day of filming, finishing each Coke in just a few gulps.

“Between me belching and going to the men’s room, it took three days to film it,” Greene said humorously in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. 

According to Coca-Cola, the bad weather during the shoot added to the length of the production. However, the company also recalled that Greene “struggled” to recite his lines after chugging so much Coke. 

In the ad, Greene dismissed a kid fan who offers him a Coke after a game, but later reconsiders the decision and chugs the Coke. The ad ends with Greene giving the boy his jersey. 

Also stated by Coca-Cola, the commercial was also responsible for changing how the public viewed Greene’s previously intimidating personality. 

“Little kids were no longer afraid of me, and older people – both women and men – would come up and offer me a Coke,” Greene recalled of the commercial’s impact on his career. 

Coincidentally, “Hey Kid, Catch!” didn’t actually premiere during the Super Bowl. The ad aired debuted during the 1979 MLB playoffs before airing again months later during Super Bowl XIV.

Moreover, the company almost went differently when the company considered choosing another NFL pro to star in the role.

McCann Erickson, the advertising agency who led the production, had also considered Tony Dorsett, Terry Bradshaw, and Roger Staubach. 

In the end, they decided to go with Greene, who was thrilled to receive the part. 

“Aside from football, it’s been my whole life,” he said fondly. 

The 60-second ad went on to win a Clio Award for being one of the best television commercials of 1979.

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