Country stars are no strangers to advertising. Even Hank Williams took a turn selling Mother’s Best Flour in the early 1950s. (Hank wrote a humorous theme song for the self-rising cornmeal brand.) Since then, country star endorsements have grown tenfold. And we’re guessing today’s stars are making a little more than Hank’s paltry $100 a week for their commercial cameos. From the weird to the wonderful, here are 10 of the best commercials featuring country stars.
10. Reba McEntire for Fritos
With two television series and several movies under her belt, Reba McEntire has proved herself to be quite an actress. But even before she was a leading lady, she was showing off her acting chops in this early 90s Fritos commercial. Reba shows up at a convenience store after hours in search of Fritos’ new “Texas Grill” cornchips. When the store clerk refuses to let her in, Reba pulls out all the stops for a performance of “Fancy,” complete with pyrotechnics. The clerk never buys that she’s actually Reba, but in the end she still gets her Fritos. And isn’t that what we all want?
9. George Strait for Wrangler
George Strait could probably sell us anything. But his longstanding partnership with Wrangler jeans makes perfect sense. This commercial features Strait strumming his guitar on his front porch and singing “Check Yes or No” when he’s interrupted by his co-star, his dog Buster.
8. Faith Hill for Pepsi
Remember the Pepsi girl? Young Hallie Eisenberg starred in a string of commercials in the mid-90s with celebrities from Aretha Franklin to Jeff Gordon. Finally, it was Faith Hill’s turn. Pepsi girl has to teach Faith the Pepsi jingle before the big concert. Why is Faith Hill performing the Pepsi song in the middle of a sold out show? It’s never explained. Fair warning: that “Joy of Cola” song will be stuck in your head all day.
7. Garth Brooks for McDonald’s
Do you miss the days when you could stop in your local McDonald’s for a Big Mac and pick up a full-length Garth Brooks CD for $5.99 (or a $3.99 cassette!)? Watch this classic commercial to relive the memories. It even features Brooks in one of his signature two-toned 90s pearlsnaps. Garth is brilliant because even though he’s in this McDonald’s commercial, he’s still kind of promoting his record. Classic Garth.
6. Alan Jackson for Ford Trucks
In 1992, Alan Jackson scored a hit with his cover of the song “Mercury Blues.” In case you forgot, the song goes “If I had money, I tell you what I’d do/I’d go downtown and buy a Mercury or two.” Jackson decided he was also crazy about Ford Trucks and changed the lyrics to “go downtown and buy a Ford Truck or two.” It was a flawless transition. And just like that, years of Ford Truck commercials were born. This particular installment features Jackson water skiing in ripped jeans. He seems to really like that.
5. Alan Jackson and Clint Black for Miller Lite
Clint Black and Alan Jackson were two of the biggest stars of the early 90s neo-traditional country movement. So it was a no-brainer to pair the two in this memorable commercial for Miller Lite. Jackson and Black’s tour buses meet at a crossroads. The two men stare one another down and then launch into an impromptu concert in the middle of nowhere. Big hair, mom jeans and fringe jackets abound. It’s the most 90s country thing you’ll see all day.
4. Loretta Lynn for Crisco
There’s something incredibly charming about Loretta Lynn’s series of ’80s Crisco commercials. Featuring appearances by her husband, Doolittle Lynn, and her daughters, the ads make you feel like you’re really at home in Loretta’s kitchen. Who wouldn’t want to get down-home cookin’ tips from the Country Queen? As Loretta reminds us several times, “Crisco makes a pie crust real flaky.” It’s easy to believe Loretta really feels this passionate about Crisco. Then again, we’d believe anything Loretta tells us.
3. Willie Nelson for Taco Bell
In 1990, Willie Nelson learned that he owed over $16,000 to the IRS. To help foot the bill, Nelson appeared in a Taco Bell commercial. Not content with reworking his own songs for a fast food chain, Willie performed a Taco Bell original: “The Woman With the Rose Tattoo.” And you know what? It’s a really catchy song. Leave it to Willie to make a song with lyrics about a steak soft taco actually work. A lot of people thought singing about the Zesty Steak Melt Burrito Supreme was beneath Willie. But ultimately, the commercial showed that the Red Headed Stranger didn’t take himself too seriously. It’s just another reason why Willie is the king of cool.
2. Johnny Cash for Taco Bell
Like any true friend, Johnny Cash decided to support his old friend by making his own Taco Bell commercial. The classic ad features a miniature Johnny singing “Nobody has more choices for just a little Cash.” Get it? Yeah.
1.Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings for Pizza Hut
The early 90s was the height of chain restaurant commercial artistry. No one will ever top it. Here’s proof: as part of the great IRS commercial trilogy, Willie and Waylon created yet another original song about love found and lost at the Pizza Hut. “The two of us are not the same, we’re as different as night and day,” Willie and Waylon sing. “Now there’s pepperoni in my crust, I gotta eat mine the wrong way.” It makes no sense but it’s wonderful just the same. And the two Highwaymen were laughing all the way to the bank — or to the IRS office.