Blog Entry

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Posted on: February 4, 2009 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2009 2:24 pm

Something has been bothering me for quite some time, and it had nothing to do with the Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola's 2009 re-creation of "Mean" Joe Greene's Ad was tasteless and void of humor.

(For those fortunate enough to have missed this sham of an advertisement, you can watch it here .)



We as sports fans tend to glorify places or events from the past. The legends from yesterday are hailed as some of the greatest to ever play the game, and for that they are untouchable in the eyes of many.

The generation who grew up with football in the 1970s and '80s really had something special. At the time, America's love affair with the NFL was in its infancy statges, and that resulted in a genuine appreciation for the game like never before. Iconic players like Dick Butkus were the embodiment of toughness, and were exonerated because of it. Such appreciation of cherished athletes led to endorsement deals, which by many accounts were received with wonder and astonishment.

The crown jewel of such advertisements came on September 1st, 1979, when the Coca-Cola company released The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid . The commerical found instant success and popularity, and was even adapted into a made for television movie.

Now fastforward to 2009. The Steelers are in the Super Bowl and the geniuses over at Coca-Cola decide to remake their commercial once again - this time substituting new Steelers' icon Troy Polamalu in Greene's place. The idea of recreating such a genuine cinematic moment is thrilling. A new generation of football fans finally gets to experience what their parents and relatives held so dear.

Not quite.

After a 12 second teaser of what the commerical should have been, Coke employed their 'comedy team' (and I use that term lightly) of the Coke brand managers. They proceed to steal the bottle and run away only to be speared by Polamalu. Troy drinks the beverage, rips of the man's shirt off with one hand, and tosses the shirt to the kid in a fashion similar to that used almost 30 years ago.

How dare they.

Is nothing sacred anymore? I understand physical comedy and dancing monkeys are the call of the day, but this took it way too far. Those two obscure advertising lackeys interrupted something that could have transcended television and lasted for another 30 years. I was shocked the industry could have fallen so low.

Coca-Cola had a chance to give a new generation of fans something special. Instead, they mocked a cherished piece of history and cheapened one of the greatest commercials of all time.


Shame on you Coke. I'm drinking Pepsi now and for the rest of my life.



Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: February 5, 2009 7:19 pm

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Well, at least Troy wasn't dancing around with a bunch of computer-generated lizards.  (That was Ray-Ray, right?)

Since: Dec 4, 2008
Posted on: February 5, 2009 12:47 pm

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

How many times has this commerical been parodied on tv and movies (Simpsons & Family Guy both did).  At least it was a Steeler doing it.  No big deal.

Since: Sep 9, 2008
Posted on: February 5, 2009 11:27 am

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless


This is just a commercial, you need to chill.  Commercials are meant to sell products, not become "sacred".  That is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.  If you take commercials so seriously, you need to wake up and get a sense of humor.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2009 11:08 am

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless


Since: Nov 14, 2007
Posted on: February 5, 2009 9:18 am

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Lighten up people!....A national treasure..Sacred, get a's a commercial. I thought it was pretty funny. Tasteless...I would'nt go that far. Worry about something important like finding out how to get us out of this mess of a nation!  WEAK!

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: February 5, 2009 9:17 am

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Coming from a guy who has Terrel Suggs on their team.  How about Ray Lewis talking about the do's and don'ts of attempted murder and how to get a way with it.  Or maybe Billick on how to lose your offensive genius in a matter of months.  By the way come on over to Heinz Field and take a good look at 6 Lombardi's punk.  The only commercial I ever see worth watching in your homeland is Captain Defense touting a bank.  Great job.  I'm glad he is your beloved icon. It's going to be sweet though watching Ray in a Cowboys uniform.

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2009 8:57 am

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Here's the problem...

The commercial with Joe Greene worked so well because everyone thought he was his nickname.  Everyone thought he was a mean person, so the commercial worked extremely well because it showed a "soft" side in "Mean Joe."

Troy is anything but a mean person.  You can barely hear him talking when you are 3 feet away from him.  So, there goes the idea of showing the "soft" side of Troy.  He shows that everyday.  So they just decided to add a little humor.  And, personally, I thought it was quite funny watching him tackle that dude.

But, I do think him ripping the shirt off the guy was a little cheesy.

Since: Jan 18, 2008
Posted on: February 4, 2009 11:58 pm

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

The spot was o.k. I guess, but as everyone else pointed out, the useless addition of the two morons as the "comic relief" ruined it. Why not bring Mean Joe back and have HIM step and say "whoa, whoa whoa - what do you guys think you're doing here? This is MY commercial!" and have Troy and the kid say "Who the heck are you?"

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: February 4, 2009 8:38 pm

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless


Great post - well said.

As you said, the commercial will forever be associated with Joe Greene. Would you be comfortable with associating this re-make with Troy Polamalu? Instead of focusing on the moment they hoped to create, Coke used the advertisement to promote their "brand managers" - two characters no one will even remember in two years time.

I don't want to get too philosophical here, but what is the purpose of any commericial? A good ad is memorable and a great ad even more so. This one will not be remembered for anything except its tackiness. While they may have gotten a cheap laugh out of a few people, this ad has no staying power.

My point is: Coke could have done better. While tasteless may be a little strong, I see nothing amusing about this commercial.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: February 4, 2009 8:30 pm

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Troy doesn't have that mean and unapproachable feel that Greene had... I'm not sure who else they would have used, but with Troy it just had a slightly different feel...

Good point. Let's see if we can narrow it down...

Out of the 32 teams, you'd have to use a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Since Joe Greene was a defensive player, you'd have to narrow it down to the 11 starters on defense.

Eliminate the cornerbacks. They're just not intimidating.

Eliminate Polamalu and Clark. As you mentioned, Polamalu is a kind-hearted individual and Clark is a defensive back.

That leaves the front seven.

Now eliminate everyone the common fan would not be able to recognize. Brett Keisel, LaMar Woodley, Aaron Smith, and Larry Foote are all gone.

That leaves James Farrior, Casey Hampton, and James Harrison. Out of those three, I'd say Harrison wins out. He's a mean, tough player with an intimidating presence. That would be one heck of a commericial!


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