Brands

Has Jerry Seinfeld Revolutionized Branded Content?

Jerry Seinfeld’s new web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, has arguably been the web series coming-of-age moment, with a Super Bowl commercial and everything. But the funniest part of the show? It’s branded content.

That doesn’t mean that the series has lost any integrity in the process. Seinfeld may have been a show about nothing, but the premise of the web series is clearly Jerry’s dream: He drives a classic car to pick up funny friends for coffee in LA or New York and leads unscripted interviews with comedic superstars like Larry David, Don Rickles, and Tina Fey. The stars typically tell personal stories about their parents, kids, or eating habits. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a guard-down, charming approach to comedy, and it’s now been streamed over 25 million times.

“My initial intention was to make a few of these silly little things for the stand-up-comedy-obsessed like myself,” Seinfeld told The Wrap. The show, produced by online entertainment channel Crackle, started small targeting a niche audience. But after season one, Acura jumped on board as the sole sponsor. Initially, the carmaker played it safe, running traditional 30-second commercials before each episode and slapping their name onto the title screen.

Now in season three, Seinfeld and Acura are working together to make the car part of the comedy by poking fun at traditional product placement. In an episode with Seth Meyers, Seinfeld and Meyers exit Roebling Tea Room and “find” a black Acura parked out front. A man leans out of the window to give a sandwich to a woman. “What’s this thing?” Meyers asks. “It’s one of those Acura food trucks,” Seinfeld says.

In the Tina Fey episode, Seinfeld circles past a restaurant to “discover” the product placement. He eventually pulls up alongside a white Acura. “Excuse me, is this a product placement?” He asks. “It sure is,” the Acura driver replies (check it out around 5:08 in the video below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KHiCOIjpp-4

For season three, Seinfeld also helped write a series of mock retro ads Acura now runs at the beginning and end of every episode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5g6fW4SgKM0

This partnership illustrates branded content at its best. Acura recognized a quality production and decided to get involved. But rather than awkwardly bursting in like Elaine on the dance floor, the carmaker helped create a brilliant piece of entertainment from the ground-up.

And there’s more good news for lovers of comedy and ads alike: season four is already in the works.

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Image by Alec Banks
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