By Teresa Varley
As a part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Joe Greene Coke Commercial, the former Steelers great and Hall of Famer finally received the Clio Award that the commercial won years ago. The award was presented to Greene prior to Sunday's Steelers game against the Bengals.
Greene's classic ad, where he tosses his jersey to a kid who gave him a Coke, won the advertising award back in 1979, but Greene never received it. Instead he was presented the award in a pregame ceremony at Heinz Field.
Greene and Tom Okon, the kid who he tossed the jersey to who is now 39-years old, were on hand for the presentation.
The "Have a Coke and a Smile" commercial features Greene coming down a stadium tunnel in pain on game day, and the young boy offers him help first, and then his Coke.
Greene declines at first, and then accepts. And then the moment that made the ad, when Greene takes the Coke, downs it, and as the young boy is walking away slightly dejected, Greene tosses him his jersey, as the youngster simply replies, "Wow…thanks Mean Joe."
The ad was a hit from the time it first aired and Greene really had no idea how big it was until two instances. The first was right in the Steelers locker room.
"After they first aired it Robin Cole came in the locker room and said 'Hey Joe, that is a pretty good commercial,'" recalled Greene. "Normally the things we do locally are low budget and we get teased about them. That time I got some praise from my teammates."
The spotlight went well beyond the locker room, though.
"Probably the best example was after the commercial ran I was in the Pro Bowl and on the practice field taking pictures of both teams at a school yard," said Greene. "The kids came out at recess and came over to me with coke bottles and cans. They went past the famous names, Roger Staubach, O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell and wanted to talk to me. That was the first inkling I thought maybe this Coca-Cola thing is something special."