Coke Zero Mean Troy parodies Mean Joe Greene

Coca-Cola starred Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu and 13 year old actor Gabriel Sullivan in the first Coke Zero Super Bowl TV commercial, a parody of the 1979 ad, “Mean Joe Greene”. In the original, “Early Showers”, a boy approaches the limping Pittsburgh Steeler and offers him a bottle of Coke. Greene almost brushes him off but finally gives in and drinks the bottle before throwing his jersey to the boy. The Mean Troy ad continues the mock rivalry between brand managers for Coke Zero and Coca Cola.

Troy Polamalu in Coke Zero ad

Polamalu limps down a tunnel to the Pittsburgh locker room, in the same way that Pittsburgh Steeler Joe Greene did in 1979. He’s followed by a young boy who offers him a bottle of Coke Zero. It’s the same script all over again until the arrival of representatives of the Coca Cola brand team…

Click on the image below to play the video.


Mean Troy was developed at Crispin Porter & Bogusky by co-executive creative directors Rob Reilly and Andrew Keller, creative directors Alex Burnard and Dave Schiff, copywriter Dave Thomas, art director Brian Born, interactive creative director Jeff Benjamin, director of integrated production David Rolfe.

Filming was shot at Heinz Field by director Fred Goss via Company Films, Los Angeles, with director of photography Jack Green and producer Sloan Schroeder.

Post production was done at Company 3 by colorist Matt Turner with executive producer Rhubie Jovanov. Editor was Jason McDonald at Number 6.

Audio was mixed at Eleven Sound. Sound design and music were produced at Beacon Street.

Boy offers Coke Zero to Troy Polamalu in Coke Zero ad

Tributes to Mean Joe Greene

This isn’t the first remake of the “Early Showers” commercial. The 1979 ad was adapted for a number of other countries including Argentina (with Diego Maradona playing Greene’s role), Brazil (with Zico), Italy (with Dino Zoff) and Thailand. The commercial was expanded into a film in 1981, “The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid”, with Greene playing himself and Henry Thomas (Elliott in ET) playing the part originally played by Tommy Okon.

A TV ad promoting asthma awareness paid homage to the Joe Greene ad in 2006, with a young asthma sufferrer throwing his Jerome Bettis Steelers jersey to Jerome.

See Phil Mooney’s post and interview with Joe Greene at Coca Cola Conversations, exploring the making of the first and second videos.