What Acura Got Wrong in its Branded Partnership with Crackle

Missed opportunities and an example of why interactive video is so powerful.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been slowly bingeing (Can you binge slowly? Isn’t that just watching?) on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Crackle.  For those who haven’t seen it, and are fans of Seinfeld, I highly recommend it.  If you never got Seinfeld’s schtick, but love comedy, watch it for the guests.  The stories, the anecdotes, the one-liners...amazing.  

The entire series is sponsored by Acura.  But as I said before, who cares?

I’m not knocking Crackle for integrating a brand into the series.  It’s done subtly, does not interrupt the experience, and is pleasantly unobtrusive.  All good things and an example others should follow.

But as Multipop is working hard to change the way consumers interact with video, I’m left feeling underwhelmed.  Bored.  Indifferent.  Acura has done nothing to engage me.

When you watch the show via Apple TV, or your connected SONY device, Acura’s commercials run at the beginning of each episodes and, in later seasons, just before the close.  The first problem is the ad creative in no way connects with the series.   (“I sell cars.  You sell you.”  WTF does that mean Acura?  Is that supposed to be funny?  You know this is a comedy series, right?  Argh!!) Here's the link to Acura's YouTube page where they show all the commercials created for this partnership.  Judge for yourself.

If I could fast-forward past it, I would.

Online, the brand experience Acura delivers is even less impactful.  Subtle logo integration into the opening and closing, some pre-roll video.  Classy, but boring. Even if I wanted to learn more about Acura (and I am a current Acura owner), there’s no opportunity for me to do so.

There’s no behind the scenes content exclusively brought to you by Acura, no interactive features that let me check out the new NSX, no cross-promotion of other Acura brand partnerships in New York or Los Angeles where all the episodes are filmed. In only one episode does the viewer see an Acura.  The episode with Jay Leno shows the new NSX while Jerry and Jay argue about who ordered the first one.  Nicely done.  Otherwise, the whole thing feels lifeless.

Here’s an idea...as someone who lives in Los Angeles and goes to New York frequently, I found myself searching online for all the neighborhood coffee shops and diners Jerry and his guests visit.  How about adding an interactive map so I can visit some of them myself?  

Another idea: each show features a classic car, what about a fun comparison of the classic car to newest Acura?  It would be cool to see the difference in technology from an 1967 Austin Healey 3000 (featured in Season 1 with Ricky Gervais) and say, the 2015 Acura TLX.  Of course they’re worlds apart, but geez, make a connection.  

I’m creating my second-screen experience by actively searching for added content because I’m engaged with the show and want more.  I could be engaging with an Acura branded interactive experience, but I’m not.  

Credit where credit is due.  Acura got in early on a great new show - kudos to them.  But Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is now in season five.  For pete’s sake, do something with it!  Make me - a current owner - excited about the partnership.  Give me a reason to engage on a deeper level and the means to do so.

If you want some ideas, call me.  I might be able to think of some.

Have you seen examples of branded content that leaves you feeling uninspired and indifferent?  Let me know in the comments below.