Super Bowl LV had plenty of exciting ad spots in store for television fans including first looks at series such as Disney+’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Paramount+’s Yellowstone as well as references to classic bits of television history such as a modern reimagining of Saturday Night Live sketch-turned-film Wayne’s World. Tide followed suit by rehashing an iconic bit of sitcom history in an ad featuring Jason Alexander (Seinfeld, Harley Quinn) with a hidden reference for Seinfeld fans.
In the ad, Alexander’s face is emblazoned on a “seemingly sentient hoodie”, as described by CinemaBlend. Though TVLine called the article of clothing “the stuff of nightmares”, they also point out how the Tide ad utilized the theme song to The Greatest American Hero.
Seinfeld fans recognize “The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)” best from its iconic use on George Costanza’s answering machine, where he records a parody version of the song. A scene in which Constanza shimmies along to his snazzy recording – while avoiding an impending break-up phone call – is featured in the episode “The Susie”.
As ridiculous as the scene seems, it was actually inspired by the real voicemail of a friend of Seinfeld writer David Mandel (Seinfeld, Veep). According to Seinfeld legend, it took many recordings for Alexander to nail George’s rendition of the song. As a Broadway performer, Alexander’s original takes were too good to convey the comedic-tone needed for the scene.
Though only featured in one episode, this scene has become synonymous with George Costanza as a character. Recent WandaVision guest star, Kat Dennings (Two Broke Girls, Thor), exemplified Seinfeld fan’s love for the scene in her 2015 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where she admitted to Alexander that she used the song as her voicemail for many years. Due to the popularity of this Seinfeld moment, CinemaBlend referred to Tide’s use of the song in their Super Bowl ad as “a pretty easy [reference] to recognize for any established Seinfeld fans.”
For those who couldn’t get enough of Tide’s commercial, the company released a follow-up ad in which Alexander discovers the existence of the sweater with his face on it. Tide went as far as to produced one physical copy of the sweater, which fans can apply to win in a raffle to benefit the hunger-relief charity Feeding America. Alexander shared news of the charity raffle on his Twitter during Sunday’s Super Bowl.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) February 8, 2021