The 1970s gifted us with a remarkable blend of advertising and athletics. These iconic 1970s sports commercials featured our beloved athletes jumping from the field to the screen, creating unforgettable moments that have stood the test of time.
Let’s look back and celebrate some of the charismatic titans of the decade, from the swaggering Joe Namath to the hard-hitting George Foreman, as they graced the airwaves with charm, wit, and their own special kind of enduring charisma. So, grab a cold one, put your feet up, and let’s take a trip back in time to relive the top 25 1970s sports commercials that captured our hearts and defined a generation.
- 1. Joe Namath, Beautymist Pantyhose
- 2. Micky Mantle, Brylcreem
- 3. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, Blue Bonnet Margarine
- 4. Reggie Jackson, Reggie Candy Bar
- 5. Reggie Jackson and Joe Namath, Brut
- 6. Pete Rose, Aqua Velva
- 7. Muhammad Ali, d-CON Roach Spray
- 8. ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, Coca Cola
- 9. Wilt Chamberlain, Volkswagon
- 10. Johnny Bench, Foster Grants
- 11. Jack Nicklaus, Magic Chef
- 12. Bob Griese, Sears
- 13. Frank Gifford, Palm Beach Suits
- 14. Joe Frazier, Miller Lite
- 15. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, Miller Lite
- 16. Chris Evert, Wilson Tennis Rackets
- 17. Pele´, Pepsi
- 18. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, Atari
- 19. Bobby Riggs, Power Tennis
- 20. Tom Seaver, Bob Griese, Earl Monroe, Screwball
- 21. Mark Spitz, Schick Flexamatic
- 22. OJ Simpson, Hertz Rent-A-Car
- 23. Joe DiMaggio, Mr. Coffee
- 24. Yogi Berra, NP-27
- 25. Joe Namath, Noxema
1. Joe Namath, Beautymist Pantyhose
The Joe Namath Beautymist Pantyhose commercial is one of the most memorable and amusing ads from the 1970s. In this iconic TV spot, legendary quarterback Joe Namath, known for his swagger and confidence on and off the football field, sports a pair of Beautymist Pantyhose to prove that if they can make his legs look good, they can make any woman’s legs look great.
The commercial begins with a close-up of a pair of shapely, attractive legs as the narrator praises the beauty of the legs and the pantyhose they’re wearing. The camera then pans out to reveal Joe Namath lying on his side with a confident grin, wearing the Beautymist Pantyhose. He cheekily says, “Now, I don’t wear pantyhose, but if Beautymist can make my legs look good, imagine what they’ll do for yours.”
This unexpected reveal and the image of a famous sports figure like Namath wearing pantyhose made the commercial unforgettable and talked-about during its time. The ad showcased the product and cemented Namath’s status as a pop culture icon willing to push boundaries and have fun with his image.
2. Micky Mantle, Brylcreem
In this captivating commercial, we’re first introduced to the stunning trio of model Kathy Davis, actress Jan Jorden, and Miss USA Deborah Shelton. But the scene soon shifts as the iconic slugger Mickey Mantle strides into the spotlight, presenting himself as a suave executive. With the gorgeous women gathered around him, they exclaim how Mantle’s exceptional success is matched only by his dashing appearance, all thanks to the Brylcreem he uses daily.
Brylcreem, eager to shake off its image as an old-fashioned, greasy hair pomade, aimed to reposition itself as a modern styling aid for the fuller, more natural men’s looks of the 1970s. And what better way to do so than by showcasing a successful and revered figure like Mickey Mantle, whose full, shiny, and natural-looking hair was the envy of many? Naturally, with such impeccable hair, the adoring women couldn’t help but flock to him.
Though it’s uncertain how well this rebranding attempt fared for Brylcreem, one thing is for sure: Mickey Mantle’s hair looked absolutely fantastic in this commercial! The ad serves as a testament to the power of celebrity endorsements and the timeless allure of looking and feeling your best.
3. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, Blue Bonnet Margarine
This charming commercial is a delightful reminder of the undeniable star power athletes held in the 1970s. The ad brings together baseball legends Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, alongside beloved actors Jamie Farr and Georgia Engel, for a playful promotion for Blue Bonnet margarine. Donning blue bonnets on their heads (a clever nod to the brand’s name), the celebrities gather to praise this popular spread.
Mays and Mantle take center stage in a fun twist as they belt out the catchy Blue Bonnet theme song. While their vocal talents might not have been their strongest suit, their enthusiastic performance adds an endearing and relatable quality to the commercial. Mantle, who also sang in the Brylcreem ad, may not have been a born singer, but his charm and star power more than made up for it.
This light-hearted and nostalgic advertisement perfectly captures the spirit of the era, reminding us of a time when our favorite sports heroes could be found not only on the field but in our very own kitchens.
4. Reggie Jackson, Reggie Candy Bar
The pinnacle of sports stardom must be having your very own candy bar named after you. And if there’s one slugger who unquestionably deserved this honor, it’s the legendary Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. This captivating commercial ingeniously plays on the fact that, despite having a fairly common name, only one Reggie Jackson truly captured the hearts and minds of sports fans everywhere.
In a rare moment of humility, the iconic baseball hero delivers a memorable line in the ad, saying, “That’s funny. I thought I was the real Reggie.” If you’re nostalgic for the Reggie candy bar, you’re in luck! It’s available on Amazon.
5. Reggie Jackson and Joe Namath, Brut
Brut, the Axe Body Spray of the 1970s, brought together two of the era’s most celebrated sports stars to just–you know–chat about after-shave.
Curious about Reggie’s opinion of Brut, Joe receives a thoughtful response from the baseball legend: “I like the way it smells.” What more could you possibly ask for from the man who had just homered in three consecutive at-bats against three different pitchers in Game 6 of the World Series?
6. Pete Rose, Aqua Velva
Pete Rose, the legendary Cincinnati Reds slugger, also has opinions about aftershave. And he’s happy to share them with a smitten female sports reporter. He’s all about keeping it simple, without fancy perfumes, bottles, or price tags. Why? Because according to Pete, “A man wants to smell like a man.” And that’s all it takes to make the reporter swoon.
This cheeky commercial capitalizes on Pete Rose’s well-known status as a ladies’ man and the era’s perception that female sports reporters were mainly present to mingle with the athletes. It seems Aqua Velva was the secret ingredient to Pete’s charm.
7. Muhammad Ali, d-CON Roach Spray
Muhammad Ali, a man who could triumph over any rival on two legs, finally meets a foe that requires a little extra assistance in this unexpectedly endearing commercial for roach spray. Ali truly embodies his nickname as The People’s Champion, showcasing his signature moves and providing valuable advice on how we can keep our homes roach-free.
With his undeniable charisma and captivating presence, Ali brings a touch of humor and warmth to the otherwise mundane topic of pest control. This surprisingly delightful ad highlights the effectiveness of the roach spray and demonstrates the legendary boxer’s ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
8. ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, Coca Cola
This commercial from 1979 stands out not only as the most iconic 70s sports commercial but perhaps as the most memorable sports commercial of all time. “Mean” Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers is visibly weary and limping back to the locker room after a grueling game when a young fan stops him to let him know how much he admires the football legend.
At first, Greene’s demeanor is brusque, but something magical happens when the boy offers him a Coca-Cola. As he sips from the bottle, his expression softens, and in a heartwarming display of gratitude, he tosses his game towel to the young fan, leaving an unforgettable impression.
This ad struck a chord with audiences far and wide, capturing hearts with its blend of emotion and human connection. Even to this day, it continues to hold its place in advertising history. as a powerful testament to the transcendent impact of sports and the genuine moments of connection that can occur between athletes and their young fans.
9. Wilt Chamberlain, Volkswagon
Wilt Chamberlain once partnered with Volkswagen in 1966 for a commercial highlighting his inability to fit into their iconic Beetle. So, when Volkswagen sought to promote its bigger, roomier Rabbit model, the impressive 7’1″ basketball legend himself was a natural choice.
The commercial features Chamberlain cruising in the Rabbit as the announcer queries if his fondness for the car stems from its handling prowess or its ability to accelerate from 0 to 50 in just 8.3 seconds (even then, not that great, but better than the famously unresponsive Beetle).
When asked, Wilt casually replies, “No, not really.” He tells us that the Rabbit’s standout feature is its generous headroom, better than his luxurious Rolls-Royce.
You get why that’s important when Chamberlain exits the vehicle, and the camera can’t fit him and the normally-sized parking valet attendants in the same frame. We briefly glimpse the unique challenges larger-than-life sports icons like Wilt Chamberlain face.
10. Johnny Bench, Foster Grants
Johnny Bench, at the time, baseball’s most eligible bachelor, steps off the field looking stylish and cool in his polarized Foster Grants. He chats with the camera, saying that when he’s not on the diamond, he’s just an everyday guy who needs sunglasses like the rest of us. So, of course, he goes for the fashionable Foster Grants.
But, as Johnny zooms off with a stunning blonde riding shotgun in a sleek Austin Healey convertible, it’s pretty clear he’s not your average guy.
Foster Grant wanted to show that their eyewear could be practical and stylish. With the charming Johnny Bench repping their shades, they nailed it, proving that you can stand out and enjoy the perks of their sunglasses – maybe even catch some admiring glances along the way.
11. Jack Nicklaus, Magic Chef
Oh, how sweet. Jack Nicklaus simply can’t stand being apart from his wife for a moment, even when she’s off to the kitchen to whip up a meal. So, he got her a Magic Chef microwave so they never have to be apart!
This ad offers a charming glimpse into the early days of microwave ovens when manufacturers were still uncertain about how people would use them and how best to market the appliances. In this commercial, Barbara Nicklaus uses the microwave to cook a ham (you know, as one does), and she likes that the microwave adjusts the temperature automatically.
However, the ad doesn’t clarify why this would be more convenient or superior to using a traditional oven (spoiler alert: it’s not). Magic Chef hopes the idyllic scene of the Nicklaus family playing tennis while their ham cooks will be enough to convince you to make the purchase. Fortunately, we all eventually figured out how to use our microwaves.
12. Bob Griese, Sears
Hey guys, don’t you want to wear these cool new double-knit polyester pants like Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese? Just look how he can run and bend with the bendable waistband!
That’s how we began our long love affair with polyester pants in the 1970s – with commercials showcasing their ability to let you move freely while the wrinkles magically disappeared. Never mind that they didn’t breathe and were made from petroleum. They were so cool!
13. Frank Gifford, Palm Beach Suits
Here’s a dapper Frank Gifford, eight years before tying the knot with the perky Kathie Lee Johnson, showcasing his polyester panache in this Palm Beach Suits ad. Honestly, revisiting these commercials makes you question why we’re so dismissive of these suits today. They were vibrant, affordable, and easily washable at home – what’s not to love?
Of course, Frank Gifford had the ability to make any ensemble look stylish, especially when paired with those slick aviator sunglasses and a suave Elvis-inspired haircut. Let’s not forget those bold wide-open collars he’s rocking – absolutely iconic!
14. Joe Frazier, Miller Lite
Joe Frazier, the singing sensation, is backed by a group of gifted singers to deliver a catchy tune for the novel concept of lite beer. With his signature swagger, Joe confidently strides into the bar and boldly grabs a beer from another patron’s hand.
At the end, he pauses, anticipating the applause from the crowd. Naturally, they oblige – after all, everyone knows the kind of knockout punches the heavyweight champ can unleash when he’s displeased.
15. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, Miller Lite
In this playful 1978 commercial, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner poke fun at their famously stormy relationship as manager and owner of the New York Yankees. The commercial takes place in a swanky restaurant before the era of cellphones, where VIPs like Steinbrenner would take important calls right at their table. As Steinbrenner wraps up such a call, the waiter brings the duo another round of Miller Lites.
The two men banter back and forth, debating the true appeal of Miller Lite: is it because it tastes great, or is it because it’s less filling? In a lighthearted twist, Steinbrenner “fires” Billy once more, and we all have a good laugh at their ongoing, real-life saga.
16. Chris Evert, Wilson Tennis Rackets
The popularity of women’s tennis soared in the 1970s, largely thanks to Billie Jean King founding the Women’s Tennis Association. However, it was the talented Chris Evert, who turned pro at just 17 in 1971, who captured the hearts of Americans and became the nation’s first tennis idol.
At the time, the sport was so fresh that female players used men’s rackets, which were heavier and less agile. That changed in 1976 when Wilson introduced the groundbreaking Chris Evert Autograph Tennis Racket. Designed with a lighter head and a longer grip, this racket complemented Evert’s iconic backhand and changed the game for women in tennis.
Evert turned out to be a natural on camera, with an easy, confident style that made you feel like you were talking with your best friend. As a result, she was a popular commercial star well into the 2000s.
17. Pele´, Pepsi
In this unforgettable 1974 Pepsi commercial, soccer legend Pelé captivates audiences with his exceptional athletic prowess, pausing only to savor a refreshing Pepsi. As the iconic “Join the Pepsi Generation” jingle plays in the background, we feel Pelé’s exuberance, and we’re inspired to embrace our own individuality and freedom. All while sipping on a cool and refreshing Pepsi, of course.
Pelé’s impressive soccer skills are on full display in the commercial, and we’re all encouraged to believe that we, too, can be just like Pelé – if we buy Pepsi, that is.
18. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, Atari
In 1978, Atari cleverly enlisted the star power of tennis icon Billie Jean King and her infamous rival Bobby Riggs to promote their groundbreaking video game system, which featured an electronic tennis game. In a move that seems a bit ironic today, Atari urged viewers to stop passively watching TV shows and instead use their screens for gaming.
You know the rest of the story: Atari’s revolutionary gaming system gained immense popularity during the late 1970s and early 1980s, ultimately leading to the explosive growth of the video game industry we see today.
19. Bobby Riggs, Power Tennis
After losing to Billie Jean King in the infamous Battle of the Sexes, Bobby Riggs was more than willing to poke fun at himself for any brand willing to pay. In this case, it’s Hasbro’s Power Tennis, a quirky ping-pong and tennis hybrid complete with an attached ball.
As we watch Bobby play, the announcer provides thrilling play-by-play commentary. He’s down now, but can Bobby stage a comeback and clinch victory? Oh, the suspense!
Sadly, he’s outplayed by his opponent, an elderly woman. And Bobby leaves in defeat to cry all the way to the bank.
20. Tom Seaver, Bob Griese, Earl Monroe, Screwball
Another Hasbro product, Screwball was a puzzle that was “easy to take apart, but hard to put back together.” Hasbro, never a company to go with a subtle message, brings together a baseball player (Tom Seaver), football player (Bob Griese), and basketball player (Earl Monroe) to try to solve the puzzle. Of course, they can’t, and they’re easily beaten by the skinny nerdy kid at the end of the row.
There’s a sweet twist at the end when all the ball players crowd around the guy asking for his autograph and to “get one for my mother.”
Sadly, Screwball didn’t succeed. I wonder if that’s because it was literally a ball full of screws – sort of a mother’s nightmare.
21. Mark Spitz, Schick Flexamatic
After winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics, every brand wanted Mark and his iconic mustache in their commercials.
In this commercial, he’s promoting the Schick Flexamatic, an electric razer. That’s perhaps not an obvious product choice for a man known for his facial hair, but Spitz – and his cute wife, Suzy – do a great job explaining how the electric shaver feels “blade close.”
Mark and Suzy are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this May! Congratulations!
22. OJ Simpson, Hertz Rent-A-Car
Man, this commercial is certainly from a far-off time. A time when you dressed up in a three-piece suit to fly. A time when you could sprint through the airport at full speed. And, of course, a time when OJ Simpson was known only as an outstanding running back for the San Francisco 49ers.
It was also a time when we didn’t ask many questions about what we saw on TV. Why is OJ Simpson running through the airport to get a rental car? Don’t you typically run through the airport if you’re trying to make your flight? We didn’t really care what the answer to those questions was – we just loved watching OJ run. At the time.
23. Joe DiMaggio, Mr. Coffee
As a kid in the 1970s, I thought Joe DiMaggio was “Mr. Coffee.” I didn’t know anything about his legendary career with the New York Yankees. Based on his calm, confident presence on camera, I just assumed he was a coffee expert telling us how to make the very best cup of coffee.
I wasn’t the only person who was swayed by DiMaggio’s personable demeanor on camera. Mr. Coffee became one of the best-selling coffee makers of its time, thanks in large part to its association with Joltin’ Joe.
24. Yogi Berra, NP-27
This has to be one of the most bizarre sports commercials of the 1970s. A stoic Yogi Berra stands between two enormous feet and says, “When you have athlete’s foot, you’re always sneaking a scratch because it itches.” As he delves into the causes of athlete’s foot, Yogi sprays the colossal feet with NP-27 fungicide, never once cracking a smile.
The ad reaches its climax with the giant feet dancing around, while Yogi Berra, still deadpan, states, “When that itch finally stops, it’s a real pleasure.” You’ll watch this commercial over and over again because you won’t be able to look away.
25. Joe Namath, Noxema
We’ll end this list the way we began it: with Joe Namath. You couldn’t turn on your TV in the 70s without catching Namath advertising some product, and in this case, he’s teaming up with a pre-Charlie’s Angels Farrah Fawcett to shill for Noxema shaving cream.
Sex sold in the 70s, and this commercial is laying it on thick like shaving cream. The jingle is ridiculously catchy, though. You’ll find yourself humming it hours later.