"Weird" wasn't invented in the '90s—it was perfected.
It was a strange era for all parties involved, but it was especially loopy for a certain subsection of advertising firms.
Indeed, some of the goofiest, most mind-boggling sports advertisements of all time came out during the '90s. Brands were pushing limits and exploring new tactics with their audiences, and the result was a number of priceless "What were they on?" moments in sports advertising.
The following is a selection of incredibly weird sports commercials from the '90s.
Oh, nothing—it's just David Robinson playing with his fighter jets.
The San Antonio Spurs forward was enjoying his usual Sunday afternoon in the bathroom of an abandoned YMCA when Sir Charles Barkley kicked in the door to scream about fines.
Typical, normal stuff. Nothing to see here.
At one point or another, every one of us has longed for a paunchy, Big Pooh lookalike to appear in our dreams and whisper to us the immortal words:
And witness we would, indulging in montage after montage of Scottie Pippen dunking in slow motion over anonymous men until he rewards us with the most essential knowledge.
"I jam. Therefore, I am."
Pepsi Max used to be "extreme."
And by "extreme," I mean for people who didn't understand the difference between the Amazon rainforest and Australia.
Moments after showing an extreme sports bro wrestling a crocodile in the Amazon, Pepsi Max dubs in a voice with a bad Australian accent that tells customers to "live life to the max." Because why not?
You don't always get Grant Hill in a neckerchief, but when you do, you savor it.
The Detroit Pistons star starred in a series of Sprite commercials during the '90s dubbed "Image Is Nothing." The campaign involved everything from teenagers spying on Hill to his preference for ultralight Brazilian rubber shoes.
The spot titled "I'm a Cowboy," however, was his magnum opus—a soaring tribute to beaded leather, personal expression and the unique marketing opportunities afforded to big-time NBA players.
GIF via Grantland.com
This one isn't "weird" so much as it is "awesome."
In this Visa commercial, an ultrafamous Deion Sanders meets a yet-to-be-discovered Mos Def, who asks for "Prime Time's" autograph and picture before sandbagging him with red tape.
Like I said, not really weird, but probably something you needed to see.
Scottie Pippen is...the Silent Assassin/Crow/Cheetah (brought to you by Nike, soundtrack not by Thelonius Monk).
I'm not sure what's going on in this Nike commercial, but I do know that cheetahs, a mission control center and Pippen are involved.
That being said, your guess is as good as mine as to why Monk—an iconic jazz pianist who passed away in 1982—played the somber little outro for this '90s shoe commercial.
Dennis Hopper did a number of spots for Nike during the '90s, and they all had their common theme—he is a football fan and bats*** crazy.
With those qualifications in mind, enjoy 14 seconds of Dennis Hopper staring into your life.
Here's how Nike felt about plausible segues during the '90s.
Dr. Joyce Brothers: "Charles, you are a role model."
Charles Barkley: "I'm outta here!"
Shock G: "Bye bye!"
(Charles Barkley and his desk land in Michael Jordan's pool; argument over footwear begins).
Hey kids, looking to stay cool? Sounds like you need to break the sun.
While not entirely specific to athletic shoes, this L.A. Gear commercial promoted some terrible advice for kids looking to play outdoors.
If you're hot, just destroy the star providing heat and energy to the world. Worst of all, the spot didn't feature a Barenaked Ladies soundtrack, which I believe we all agree would have saved it.
Hey, science—how about you get off your candy butt and get cracking?
2020 is barely six years away, and based on this All Sport commercial starring Steve Young and Jerry Rice, our footballs are still 299 pounds too light.
Also, where are we with athlete cloning? Calvin Johnson isn't getting any younger.
For perhaps the first and only time in advertising history, a shoe company managed to showcase more of the human undercarriage than it did its own product.
Reebok released this commercial titled "The Edge" in 1991, presumably in the hope that it would help sell shoes.
Some consumers might have been distracted, however, by the sheer amount of tightly Spandex-ed groin falling toward the camera.
"All right, the holiday season is coming up and we need to sell these Deion Sanders shoes. Johnson! What do we got?"
"All right, now stay with me—Deion Sanders is Santa. He's...Sanderclaus."
"Brilliant! What else?"
"Well, we still have that angry comedian on contract..."
"Perfect! Throw him in there! Make him work for it!"
Don't mind Troy Aikman—he's just kicking back and enjoying the launch of the new CMT network.
The schtick here is that Aikman is a Cowboy, and as such, the perfect ambassador for a television channel dedicated to country music videos.
The commercial is probably cheesier than it is weird, but there's something about switching back and forth between slow motion football highlight and Toby Keith that edges this one into unsettling territory.
They're larger than boats, mountain ranges and the Grand Canyon—and they're going to crush you to death.
That's the essential message of this 1993 spot by Adidas, which advertised Dikembe Mutombo's shoe as something to desire and fear at the same time.
While Adidas might have failed to scare you with the shoe, the shot of Mutombo's lip quivering at the 16-second mark will be in your dreams forever.
Screenshot via @OldTvSpots
Everyone thinks of moving and iconic commercial statements when they think of Nike and basketball, but here's one that got swept under the rug: Gary Payton crushing little people into green goo.
Yup, the same company who told you to "find your greatness" also dressed up small people like elves and had them "carry" an NBA star around a terrifying laboratory.
Guess you just have to keep throwing stuff on the board and see what sticks.
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