Hey Kid, Catch!

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Hey Kid, Catch!
Agency McCann Erickson
Client The Coca-Cola Company
Language English
Running time 1 minute
Release date(s) October 1, 1979 (1979-10-01)
Directed by Roger Mosconi
Music by "Coke and a Smile"
Country United States

"Hey Kid, Catch!" is a television advertisement for Coca-Cola starring Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle "Mean" Joe Greene, which debuted on October 1, 1979, and was aired again several times, most notably during Super Bowl XIV in 1980. The 60-second commercial won a Clio Award for being one of the best television commercials of 1979.[1]

Officially titled "Mean Joe Greene" by McCann Erickson, the advertising agency that created the commercial (which was part of the "Have a Coke and a Smile" ad campaign), the set-up and payoff is classic simple advertising: Following a football game, a child (Tommy Okon) offers an injured Greene a Coke, prompting "Mean" Joe to grab the bottle and guzzle the entire contents, before turning to limp away. He then turns back toward the now-crestfallen child, smiles and tosses the kid his team jersey with the now-famous line, "Hey kid, catch!".[2] The commercial was listed as one of the top ten commercials of all time by multiple sources, including TV Guide magazine. The ad was also shown in many other countries (including the UK), where Greene was not even well known.

The campaign's art director was Roger Mosconi, the writer was Penny Hawkey, and the singers of the "Coke and a Smile" jingle were Jim Campbell, Don Thomas, Liz Corrigan, Shellie Littman, Arlene Martell, and Linda November. The footage was shot in May 1979 at a small stadium in Mount Vernon, New York, and the commercial was released on October 1, 1979, on ABC's Monday Night Football, though its airing during the 1980 Super Bowl brought it the most attention due to the program's enormous audience.[3][4]

Greene later recalled that in filming the commercial, it took several takes to get his final line in the commercial in without burping. "Between me belching and going to the men's room, it took three days to film it," Greene recalled.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

  • A November 18, 1987 episode of Sesame Street features Gordon played by Roscoe Orman (as Big Murray) playing the role of Mean Joe Greene and with the Coke bottle replaced by the number 7. In the commercial, as Murray accepts a number 7 from a young fan, whom he rewards with a towel that also has a 7 on it. This skit is called "Have a 7 and a Smile".
  • In 1999, a Checkers and Rally's commercial parodied this commercial, with the Coke bottle replaced by a Champ burger.[6]
  • A 1999 episode of Family Guy called "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", Peter Griffin takes the role of the boy in the commercial, not only getting Greene's jersey but the rest of his clothes.
  • During Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Coca-Cola aired a parody of the commercial to promote its Coca-Cola Zero brand which featured former Steelers player Troy Polamalu in Greene's role. After Polamalu is given a Coke Zero by a child, the Coke Zero is taken away by Coca-Cola brand managers who claim Coke Zero stole their commercial, resulting in Polamalu tackling one of the brand managers and giving the child his shirt.[7][8]
  • An advertisement for the Fox television drama series House, first aired during the 2011 Super Bowl XLV, parodies the original commercial with a similar scene in which Dr. Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie, throws his cane to a young fan played by Preston Bailey.[9]
  • Greene and Tommy Okon reunited at Apogee Stadium (the home field of Greene's college football team, the University of North Texas Mean Green) for a 2016 special retrospective on Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials, which aired on February 2, 2016 (five days prior to Super Bowl 50).[10]
  • In 2011, an episode of SportsNation on ESPN briefly parodied this commercial which featured sportscaster Michelle Beadle in Greene's role. In the commercial, after finishing the soda, instead of the jersey, she "accidentally" throws the empty soda bottle back to the kid as it breaks on the wall at the end and then apologizes after that "mishap". In addition, the commercial try to look like the late 70s/early 80s font titles with the words "Facebook.com/SportsNation" and "Have some "SportsNation" and a smile" and "Sports is Life".[11]
  • In 2012, a Downy Unstopables commercial parodied this commercial in which Mean Joe Greene returns along with comedienne Amy Sedaris taking the role of the boy in the commercial, with the coke bottle replaced by a bottle of Downy Unstopables. In the commercial, after taking a whiff of Greene's jersey, Sedaris makes a sour face and says "Whoa, No Thanks Mean Joe!" before tossing the jersey back to him.[12]


  1. ^ "The 10 Best Award-Winning TV Ads Everyone Must See". Business Insider. January 18, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ Coca-Cola Classic ad: Mean Joe Greene [Full Version] (1979). YouTube. July 17, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ Isaacs, Stan (December 17, 1979). "Mean Joe: Goliath plays Othello". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Singers' Seminar explores steps to success" (pdf). AFTRA. New York. Fall 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2011. At the request of the singers in the audience, Arlene sang "A Coke and a Smile", a classic jingle with Mean Joe Green which has played every year for a decade on Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials, and in 2009 was voted into the Super Bowl Hall of Fame. Singers on the commercial are Jim Campbell, Don Thomas, Liz Corrigan, Shellie Littman, Arlene Martell, and Linda November 
  5. ^ Fowler, Scott (March 1, 1992). "Mean Joe Greene's biggest hit was also his most memorable 'catch'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  6. ^ 11-22-1999 WTOL Late Night Commercials. YouTube. May 12, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  7. ^ Hinds, Julie (February 2, 2009). "Super Bowl ads deliver big laughs". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Coke to reprise 'Mean Joe' commercial for Super Bowl". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Former Seaside boy set to appear in Super Bowl commercial Sunday". The Daily Astorian. Astoria, Oregon. February 4, 2011. Archived from the original on February 6, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2011. 
  10. ^ "'Mean' Joe Greene Reunites With Coca-Cola Kid 40 Years Later". GlennBeck.com. January 28, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  11. ^ Davis, Glenn (January 31, 2011). "ESPN'S Michelle Beadle Shoots Some Super Bowl Commercials (Mean Joe Green is mentioned in the article)". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  12. ^ McMains, Andrew (January 31, 2012). "Coke's Classic Super Bowl Ad Gets 'Stinky'". Retrieved January 31, 2012.