The '90s basketball phenom takes a Forrest Gump-esque romp through boob tube history in a high-tech, 60-second spot from BBDO Worldwide, New York, for Pepsi's Big Slam 1-liter bottle. The commercial is said to have cost more than $2 million.
According to David Harner, senior VP-creative director at BBDO, it was one of the most costly commercials Pepsi has ever made not only because of the technology but the expensive rights that had to be bought to use the classic TV clips.
The spot was directed by Joe Pytka; special effects were handled by Pacific Ocean Post, Los Angeles, which utilized the same techniques in "Forrest Gump," which were developed by Industrial Light & Magic.
In the commercial, titled "Set Piece," Mr. O'Neal leaves the basketball court midgame, runs onto the set of "I Love Lucy," and works with Lucy and Ethel on the assembly line making bon bons. He then manages to ride horseback with the Cartwright family in "Bonanza," joins Cary Grant in "North by Northwest," and shares a memorable scene in the "Honeymooners" kitchen with Ralph Kramden. Re-energized, he runs back on court for a slam dunk.
That is, of course, not before he intrudes on Cindy Crawford filming a Pepsi commercial and enjoys a brief stint as a cartoon character alongside Woody Woodpecker.
"It looks like it cost a zillion dollars, but it's fantastic," said veteran adman Jerry Della Femina.