Coca-Cola and Mean Joe Greene: Back Together Again


Coca-Cola is dipping into it’s archive of ‘classic’ advertising to bring back one of the most iconic commercials in history.

Technically called “Early Showers”, the 60-second Mean Joe Greene spot will air during the Nascar Darlington Raceway Southern 500 race in South Carolina.

As many remember, in the 1979 ad Pittsburg Steelers Hall of Fame and four-time Super Bowl Champion “Mean Joe” Greene is seen after a game walking back to the locker room – when a small boy stops to offer him a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola. After first refusing, Greene accepts the Coke and finishes it in one big gulp.

And the rest of the spot of course, is history – when Mean Joe and the kid turn to go their separate ways – but Greene has a change of heart and throws the kid his jersey.

In an exclusive interview with Adweek, Greene provides his perspective on the power of the spot:

via Adweek

“Prior to the commercial I was known as a mean guy. Not just ‘Mean Joe,’ but as a mean guy,” he said. “But afterward, I remember prior to a ball game, leaving a hotel on a road trip, a little kid came up to me and asked for an autograph. I tend not to give autographs, and I kind of snarled at him, and he just looked at me and smiled and said, “That’s ‘Mean Joe.'””I have been told over the years that it was a pivotal point in bringing black athletes to the national forum,” Greene added. “I wasn’t aware of it, but I guess people in the business have said that, and if that’s so, I think that’s a good thing.”

“I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of it,” Greene said of the ad. “It’s a good thing; it’s not aggressive. I wouldn’t say it’s passive, but it’s a conversation between a kid and and adult, a black man and a white kid during that time. It wasn’t really about either of us, but about the product, and we just happened to be talking about it.”

And here is the classic Coca-Cola TV spot. Enjoy!