Top Nine Best Athlete Ad Campaigns
By Lou DiPietro
If there’s one thing we love here at Niner HQ, it’s athletes in commercials; as great as our sports heroes were on the field, we’ll never forget Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux reminding us that “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” or “Mean” Joe Greene having a Coke and a smile with a young fan.
Of course, we’ll also never forget those clunkers that made our previous list of Most Embarrassing Athlete Endorsements either, but all those one-offs aside, we know it takes a true professional make an impact on the small screen time and time again.
So, while you watch Derek Jeter and Eli Manning sell cars, chuckle as Charles Barkley loses weight like a man, or even look back fondly on Phil Rizzuto’s days shilling The Money Store, we want to remind you of some of the greats who have merged sports, entertainment, and increased profit margins to repeatedly steal the spotlight, 30 seconds at a time.
LOCK OUT YOUR THIRST
Sprite has had a long-standing relationship with the sports world, but perhaps their best work came in 1998 when they put Grant Hill and Tim Duncan to work during the NBA lockout. Even better, no Grant Hills were harmed in the making of those ads!
HAIR-EN OF TROY
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has luxuriously long hair, thanks in part to the "Polamolecules" in his Head & Shoulders shampoo. Of course, if Troy keeps showering with his uniform on as the ad suggests, he might need to start endorsing Old Spice soon too.
NUMBER 1/2 IN YOUR SCOREBOOKS
Penny Hardaway's NBA career may have stalled after a few years, but Chris Rock's took off after he voiced Anfernee's half-pint sidekick, Lil' Penny. As for Nick Anderson, well, this commercial at least proves that he once existed, I guess.
Who knew Peyton Manning had a personality? Apparently the folks at MasterCard, who greenlighted a series of ads featuring the then-Colts' QB being a regular Joe ... although something tells us he never gets his interest rates jacked up for missing a payment.
The saucy sudsers at Miller Lite have brought you Dick Butkus at the opera, Yogi Berra dropping knowledge on George Costanza, and some of the best of Bob Uecker ... all while continuing to taste great and be less filling!
I'M HOOPIN' IT
The McDonald's commercials featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird going one-on-one for a Big Mac inspired millions to play HORSE ... but while MJ can go through the window, over the scoreboard, and behind the back, he probably never should've gone off the rack with this outfit.
Baseball, football, hockey, auto racing, even equestrian events ... there ain't nothin' Bo don't know! Except for maybe how to master a British accent.
BE LIKE MIKE
We think those three words say it all, and we dare you to watch Gatorade's most iconic commercial and not sing along.