Seinfeld and Acura first paired up with a Super Bowl spot in 2012 that has since grown into one of the more interesting relationships between a brand and celebrity that while great for the comedian — he’s found a sponsor to pay for his musings with his fellow funny friends — it may not go far enough to promote Acura’s cars and SUVs.
“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is a simple conceit: Seinfeld picks up a fellow comedian in a classic car and drives them around New York City before stopping for coffee and discussing their experiences as comics. The conversations are off-the-cuff and unstaged, helping make each 10- to 15-minute episode feel more watchable than some promotional-driven chats that take place on most talkshows. Previous episodes have featured Larry David, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Michael Richards, David Letterman and Sarah Silverman.
The newest episode has Seinfeld driving Louis C.K. in a tiny orange 1959 Fiat Jolly before stopping by Louis’ Trawler yacht and revealing that he would like to end his HBO show “Louie” after the seventh or eighth season. A future episode has Oswalt excited to ride in a DeLorean.
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That’s largely the problem: The talent on screen is never shown inside an Acura — brands from other automakers get far more exposure and loving praise from Seinfeld, well-known for his collection of classic cars. While Acura is clearly helping make the show happen, however, the subtle route that’s been taken by its primary sponsor may wind up costing the carmaker the kind of exposure it was looking to generate down the road.
Produced by Sony Pictures Television’s Embassy Row, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” launched shortly after Acura’s Super Bowl spot that featured Seinfeld. Acura, Honda’s luxury label, wanted to work with the comedian since he appeals to well-educated, affluent consumers, the audience the Japanese automaker is looking to reach with its vehicles. But outside of the initial ad that plays before the series, Acura is hardly seen in the show.
But Acura does more than just sponsor “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which streams exclusively on Sony’s Crackle.com and has become the site’s most popular series.
Since 2012, Seinfeld also has produced commercials that feature Acura’s vehicles, with the spots streaming before his web series, but also on YouTube and other platforms. The current batch of ads cleverly mock vintage car ads from the 1960s. All are directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (see below).