As the hit HBO series The Sopranos draws to a close, ad agency Venables, Bell & Partners has tapped San Francisco's Phoenix Editorial & Designs and editor Bob Frisk on a two-spot campaign promoting sales of The Sopranos on DVD. Directed by Harvest Films' Baker Smith, the :30 commercials "Pole" and "Hair" feature laugh-out-loud scenarios inspired by the darkly comical characters and situations on the show. The campaign broke March 30th.
The spot "Pole," inspired by Tony Soprano's day job as the proprietor of a watering hole of ill repute, opens on a typical suburban couple discussing paint samples at the breakfast table, techno music playing softly in the background. Slightly pre-occupied, the husband keeps his eyes on something off screen. Suddenly, without fazing the couple one bit, a white lace garment lands on the table between them.
The spot cuts to a wide shot, revealing a silver lamé-clad exotic dancer gyrating around a pole mounted on an elevated stage in the center of the kitchen. The camera pans out to reveal the house festooned with a flashing neon "Badda Bing" sign on the roof. "Hair" opens on a middle-aged man reading the morning paper at breakfast, his combed-back hair accented with two shocks of white on either side—the same hairstyle the character Paulie Walnuts sports on the show. This man however, is no mobster—just a regular family man calling his kids to the table. A montage follows, showing first a teenage kid with the same hairdo unwillingly getting out of bed, while his older brother, again with the signature hair, checks his image out in the bathroom mirror.
In the next room, the wife hums happily as she pulls on a sweater—she too, has the same hairdo. Finally, the family convenes for breakfast. Amidst the quiet chomping of cereal and the crinkling of the morning paper, the father looks up and asks, "Where’s Ryan?" just as a small bald child arrives at the breakfast table, plops into his seat and beams behind huge black frame glasses—identical to the ones Corrado "Junior" Soprano dons on the show.
Both spots close with the title card, "Bring home The Sopranos, Permanently." Said Greg Bell, Co-Creative Director and Founder, Venables Bell & Partners, "HBO is a sophisticated brand.
So when we do humor for them, it can be entertaining, but nothing egregious. Both of these spots rely on a traditional comic reveal, and in the wrong hands, could fall flat or feel moronically familiar. The balance Bob struck on the spot 'Hair' was a slow sustained reveal that was not in your face. Sure, we showed that hair many times, but you never felt like we were begging for a laugh. HBO begs for nothing. 'Pole' was an editorial solution that wasn't obvious. While we did rely on the 'ta-dah' reveal, Bob dribbled in pole squeak sound effects and an omnipresent dance track throughout this couples' mundane breakfast conversation. Pre-emptive? Yes. But it made the reveal 10 times more gratifying than it would have been otherwise."