"I'm talking to Tony Soprano!" thought DKB Advertising creative director Leticia Martin during the filming of a new spot for Rutgers University football.
The commercial, starring James Gandolfini, star of the HBO series The Sopranos, and Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano, was directed by Michael Imperioli, who plays Christopher on the show.
Morristown, N.J.-based DKB, lead agency for Rutgers, filmed the spot the day after The Sopranos wrapped.
The work features Gandolfini hanging with his college buddies. A fan comes up and raves, but at the end of the commercial, it's clear he is actually talking to Schiano, who is sitting next to Gandolfini.
At one point, Martin said, Gandolfini questioned the humor in the spot, asking her, "What if it isn't funny?" over and over again. That's when Martin had her "Tony Soprano" moment. But, in the end, the air was cleared.
"You could see [Gandolfini] was tired; he had just finished a grueling shooting session," said Martin. "But everything they say about him was true—he's a great guy to work with."
The spot airs in April on cable and New Jersey networks.