Subscribe to Ad Age now for the latest industry news and analysis.
This 60-second commercial includes many elements from the hit series, including actors Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow) and Robert Iler (who plays Tony’s son, AJ) Directed by Soprano creator David Chase, with photography direction by Phil Abraham, who plays the same role for the original title sequence. Chevy even got the rights to the original song, “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3.
But fans of HBO’s “The Sopranos”—which ran from 1999-2007—will notice some stark, and less glaring, differences in the ad, taken from the start. The obvious change is the ending. The original shows Tony driving down the winding driveway to his house. In the ad, Meadow parks a blue Silverado EV in front of seafood restaurant Bahrs Landing on the Jersey Shore, where he recharges his electric truck and greets AJ with a hug.
“David [Chase] and the team really felt it was a tribute to some of the unanswered questions at the end of the series,” said Majoros, referring to the much-discussed final scene from the show. The scene shows Meadow struggling to park his Lexus in parallel before joining his family at the Holsten restaurant as the series then ends suddenly and mysteriously.
“They’re in the restaurant and you really don’t know what happened to the kids,” Majoros said. The ad has “a very optimistic ending, where it is clear that Meadow and AJ have moved on and this is a new generation. It’s got a different feel to it. All of these things together create a bit of magic. ”
Whether Sopranos fans consider it a miracle will be left to social media debate. Some loyalists will no doubt be disappointed to learn that the video—which in its early stages could be interpreted as an advertisement for some kind of comeback by the HBO show—ends up with a promotion for a new truck.
Get the latest Ad Age Super Bowl 2022 news here.
But the goal of every Super Bowl commercial is to create conversation and awareness. And the Chevy commercial, which wasn’t released before it aired in-game, seems destined to do just that.
Majoros said Chevy wanted to capture renewed interest in “The Sopranos.” Viewers on HBO Now surged 179% in the early days of the pandemic, GQ reported in 2020, noting that the crime family drama is “back,” and seems to be played by everyone,” including millennials and Gen Z “immersing themselves in it for the first time.” .” In 2021, HBO Max released “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel to the original series, which also hit theaters. (This brought more fame to the show, although the film disappointed many critics.)
“The soprano was amazing in his day and just as amazing now. It found a massive revival,” Majoros said.
But to pull the ad off, “registering the people who make the show up front is going to be really important,” he said. “If we can’t get [original] talent, it won’t work. Thankfully they were just as enthusiastic about the idea.”
Of course, using a mob show with a high dose of violence to mass-market pickup trucks to mainstream Americans isn’t without its risks.
Chevy attempted to add some subtle, more upbeat, developments to the ad. For example, in the original opening, Tony drives past a cemetery—but in the commercial version, the cemetery is replaced with a children’s playground. Other changes simply reflect a changing landscape; The Twin Towers were replaced by the One World Trade Center skyscraper built after the September 11 terrorist attacks, for example. Another change reflects more modern consumer sensibilities: A sign for Satriale’s Pork Store—where the show’s characters order “gabagool”—now shows it has meat with “no antibiotics.” While Tony pulls a toll ticket to get into the New Jersey Turnpike, Meadow sails on an E-ZPass.
The discerning observer may also notice that the Sunoco gas station sign—which Tony drove in the original opening—is missing from the ad.
Has GM made any comments about the future of driving gas-free cars? Majoros suggests that the choice is more about logistics.
“You can imagine the number of people you have to go after to get the rights and permits,” he said. The omission of the gas station sign was “accidental.”
Despite those changes and alternate endings, Chevy is trying to stay as close to the original as possible. “We know very well that Sopranos fans will soon start producing side-by-side,” Majoros said. “We try to be right in terms of tempo, music, style of photography, even the type of camera used to take pictures.”
“Hopefully Sopranos fans appreciate that—and then if you’re not a Sopranos fan, hopefully what you brought here is a cool new truck with a bit of attitude,” he said.
For those looking side-by-side, here’s the original opening, with the ad below. Play both at once and judge for yourself whether the Chevy succeeds.
Don’t miss the latest news. Sign up for the Ad Age newsletter here.