Sopranos: Blow Up Your Product Placement (Warning: Contains Spoilers For Final Episode)

It’s kind of funny Sopranos’ capo di tutti capi David Chase blew up AJ’s bright-yellow Nissan Xterra in the final episode.

It was responsible for some of the show’s most egregious product-placement dialogue (for a series that doesn’t actually do paid product placement deals, that is), back when Tony presented it to him in Season 5. In that scene, as AJ dashed towards the Nissan while (atypically) evidencing aneurysm-level excitement, Tony cockily reassured Carmella that the SUV comes with “sensors in the seat belts. Part of Nissan’s triple-safety philosophy.”

Said dialogue prompted Laura Caraccioli-Davis, a smart exec who works on product placement deals for ad giant Starcom, to tut-tut the product shout-out as being “really obvious … It disengaged me from the story. It was very overt.”

I wrote a long story about the Sopranos’ dances with product a few years back when I worked at Ad Age. (Not sure if it’s firewalled but try this link.) In the course of reporting about why and how certain cars got very loving onscreen depictions and descriptions (like Johnny Sack’s Maserati), a HBO spokesman informed me that the show followed “industry standards that dictate a product be used in the way in which it is intended.”

And then Chase goes and sets an SUV on fire—and later has AJ tell his shrink about how great it was to watch it burn.

I guess it’s true that the show didn’t need the truck anymore, but still. All we can say is: Kids, please don’t try this at home.

(Obnoxious Editorial Comment: Am I the only one who thinks Tony got whacked at the very end?)

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