Raise the (Steel) Curtain for Super Bowl XIV’s Best Ad

Today’s Coca Cola ads are known for high production value and occasional divisiveness. However, in 1980, they took the ad world by storm with a simple set-up and an endearing pay-off.

“Wow, thanks Mean Joe,” was on the lips of everyone who watched Super Bowl XIV. Originally airing Oct. 1979, Hey kid, catch! ran again on January 20, 1980, for the Super Bowl, taking advantage of its star’s game appearance. Created by McCann-Erickson, the spot starred Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Tackle Joe Greene, who hobbles into a tunnel with his jersey ripped off. A boy approaches and offers him his Coke to cure what’s been a hard day. Mean Joe accepts and as a token of gratitude tosses the kid his jersey.

Greene was seen as a ruthless player, but the ad casted him anyways and reaped the benefits. It showed a human side to Greene that most were unaware of—changing public perception of him and gridiron titans. It boasted one of the greatest pay-offs in advertising and an iconic jingle. It has been imitated and parodied ever since. It won a 1979 Clio Award and TV Guide named it as one of the all-time greatest ads, demonstrating a simple approach can be the best approach.

Unfortunately, the ad didn’t improve Coca-Cola’s sales. However, it did create decades of exposure and a partnership with the Steelers. Hey kid, catch! was a small ad, but its impact was as big as Mean Joe Greene himself.

  • SOURCE: CBS YouTube Page
  • BRANDS: Coca Cola, Super Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL 
  • WHY IT’S ONE OF THE BEST: Because 40 years later, we’re still talking about it

AUTHOR: Dan Nelsen
ORIGIN: Speaking Human Contributor

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