Jerry Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is not just good fun – it’s also built on a simple foundation of quality content gold, which you can replicate without breaking the bank on antique automobiles.
When one of the world’s most beloved comedians chose to return to the screen in 2012 (14 years after the best sitcom ever ended), it was a big surprise that he did it in a free format on the rather small streaming service Crackle.
Seinfeld wanted full creative control over his passion project – something the big networks wouldn’t offer him.
And Seinfeld took advantage of the freedom given by Crackle in the best way possible by creating a high-speed internet hit with fast cars and even faster jokes from some of the world’s funniest people.
Jerry the content genius
Seinfeld is a comedy genius, and nobody can do what he does – comedy-wise. But the way he’s built the concept of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is by following a strict format, and it borrows more than a few tricks from a content strategy playbook. All these methods can inspire us to do our work better and faster – and get our content seen by the right people.
Jerry’s first content trick: Don’t reinvent the wheel
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee can seem laid back and random. But each episode follows a strict structure that repeats itself in every episode:
- Jerry presents the (usually antique) car he and his guest will ride in
- He calls his guest and asks him or her out for coffee
- He gives a short presentation about the guest
- He picks up the guest (who compliments the car)
- They go for a drive while talking comedy
- They stop for coffee and food
- They go for a short walk
- They drive back
This makes it easier to plan, execute and edit the show, and the consistency makes the brand more recognizable. The structure also means that there really isn’t a lot of creative development needed for each episode – except the talking points for the interview.
Seinfeld Content takeaway: If you can create repeatable concepts within your content strategy, it’s easier to manage content production in the long run. Find a format that fits different situations and make it into series of posts.
It could be a weekly interview with more or less the same questions, but new guests; an ebook where all chapters describe the same challenge from different angles; an industry report which you update quarterly with new data within the same structure; etc.
Jerry’s second content trick: Breathe new life into old jokes
Some stand-up comedians tour with the same jokes for years, but it’s difficult to use “reruns” on a TV show (or other episodic video). But Seinfeld has taken an elegant approach to this by introducing the “Single Shot,” which is a small video (up to a few minutes) combining clips from his different Comedians episodes – always following a particular subject. That could be car breakdowns (which happen a lot…), having kids, the anatomy of a joke, or just how other comedians feel about David Letterman.
This makes it possible to stay top of mind with the audience between the full episodes, and the show runners can also use some of the material that was edited out of the main episodes or material from earlier seasons. And because of the strict structure, a lot of the same themes come up from episode to episode – making it easy to edit snippets of them into something new.
Seinfeld Content Takeaway: When you create content, think about how you can use it in multiple formats.
A collection of blog posts could become an ebook; the eBook could work as a small email course; your trend report could be turned into an infographic; and your top 10 list post could be chopped up into 10 tweets or Instagram posts. Always have recycling in mind when you plan your content calendar.
Jerry’s third content trick: Have fun with famous people
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most influential comedians in the world – no questions asked. But his latest TV hit before Comedians in Cars was Seinfeld, which went off the air in 1998, so he might not be as authoritative a figure to people today as he was 20 years ago. (Not to mention the new generation that’s come of age.)
That’s why Jerry’s selection of guests is so important – because the right people come with a built-in audience and authority. This is what is known as influencer marketing in the marketing world, and Jerry does it to perfection.
He invites the best known, most beloved and highly provocative comedians from the top shelf to guest the show. And the variation is truly broad – from long-established talk show hosts like David Letterman and Jay Leno to newcomers like Amy Schumer and YouTube phenomenon Miranda Sings. He even gets US President Barack Obama behind the wheel – you don’t get more authoritative than that!
In this way, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is constantly introduced to new audiences through the guests – who often share with their followers that they’re participating and thus create extra hype.
Seinfeld Content Takeaway: Get in touch with influencers from your business niche and try to convince them to be a part of your content. You can interview them, they can do guest posts or podcasts, they can be part of “who to follow” lists, and/or they can speak at your events. Always think about matching influencers with your customer personas. If you can find influencers your core clients would identify with or look up to, then you’re halfway there.
Jerry’s bonus tip: You can’t fake passion
Even though you can steal a lot from Jerry Seinfeld’s content strategy, there’s one thing you can’t just copy: Seinfeld loves cars and comedy – and it oozes from every shot in the show. It’s a passion project, and you can’t fake passion over the long haul within content marketing. And passionate people are just more interesting to listen to – and buy from, down the road.