A while ago I attended a digital upfront and saw brands signing up to sponsor digital content. This branded content is a good idea for the sponsors, it involves engagement, has a perceived value, and if really successful can develop brand loyalty. The problem was, as I stood there holding my free drink, the content itself was really obscure and, well, how can I put this sensitively, ...crap.
This seems to be the majority of branded content, where the content plays second fiddle to the sponsoring brand. This isn't the case though if you have watched Crackles "Comedians in cars getting coffee". Crackle doesn't get written about very often, always overshadowed by HULU or Netflix, but it's not a bad service at all. It's Netflix for people without credit cards.
Comedians in car getting coffee is produced and hosted by Jerry Seinfeld. Its really simple, Jerry, (a car fanatic), each episode turns up in a classic car, picks up a famous comedian friend and goes for coffee. they talk about life, their careers, things that make them tick, and it's all fly on the wall POV. This isn't an interview show, Jerry doesn't interview his guest, they go out and have an informal chat, just like you do when you grab a coffee with a friend. It just so happens that the people he's talking to are very interesting and naturally funny. It shows the intelligence of a comedian's ability to observe life and comment on it. I have always admired anyone who would stand on a stage and try and make people laugh, it takes guts, but most of all, to be a successful comedian you need to be very smart, and an astute observer. As Chris Rock says:
"A gourmet meal with an asshole is a horrible meal, a hot dog with an interesting person is an amazing meal, it's all about the company."
Sienfeld is superb in this show, he's funny, but not trying too hard funny, he just enjoys the company he's with and we feel that. The show has a spectacular list of guests including David Letterman, Larry David, Don Rickles, Ricky Gervaise... the list goes on and on, (the ever reclusive Letterman is very interesting), you see if Seinfeld calls you, do you really say no?
The show is sponsored by Acura. It's how Acura sponsors the show that is so clever. They get billboards at the beginning and end of each segment. During some shows we break for commercial, but not an Acura commercial, a 70's Honda commercial, (there's a great one starring a yet unknown John Travolta). In some episodes they make a joke of the the product placement, by walking by an Acura in the street and Jerry mentions, "This is my sponsor", Sarah Silverman comments," so this is product placement", and Jerry retorts, "Yes"... "Great car" Silverman says sarcastically. That's the highest level of integration and sponsorship you get. Acura seems to understand that it's about the content, not the product placement.
I watch shows like "The Biggest Loser" on NBC and it's just one big infomercial, and to be honest, when they are showing the "Jenny-o" turkey for the fifth time and pretending they really would choose to eat it, reading off a corny script about it's superior benefits, it turns me off completely. The advertising has gotten in the way of the programming, and I am tuning out.
Comedians in cars getting coffee is a great watch, and you won't feel like you've been sold a car, just enjoyed observing really funny interesting people. By the way, Sienfeld has been nominated for an Emmy, and he deserves to win.