Everyone knows who Jerry Seinfeld is. His show Seinfeld is one of the most popular shows of all time. The show basically invented the current sitcom format.
Since Seinfeld though, the comedian’s career is a bit spotty. Naturally, having an uber-successful show with enduring cultural relevance will give a person enough money to not have to worry about having a day job, do what he wants, and mostly chase projects that drive his interests – such as directing Broadway plays, stand-up residencies, and re-visiting some of his early stand-up bits for new specials. You may remember The Bee Movie and might be surprised to learn that he is working on another movie – this one about the origin of the PopTart. But post-Seinfeld, the comedian has probably been best known for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
If you’ve somehow not heard of the show, the premise is simple. Seinfeld, an avid automobile enthusiast, picks up a famous guest in a cool car and brings them out for a cup of coffee. The show has been very successful, and some of the biggest names in the world have been guests. This includes then-president Barack Obama, perhaps the biggest guest in the world at the time.
Needless to say, the show did well. Much of its success can be attributed to the exciting and varied guests, the presentation, and the unique concept. But it can’t hurt that the host was just coming off of one of the most successful shows ever, one which made him extremely wealthy and a household name.
So it may be shocking to learn that when Seinfeld initially looked for sponsors, he was turned down by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks.
One would think Starbucks would jump up and down about a show hosted by Jerry Seinfeld revolving around the drinking of coffee. But according to Seinfeld, Schultz was stone faced.
“He said, “I don’t really see the connection.” I said, “Are there other people coming in your office pitching other shows with ‘coffee’ in the title?”
This reaction may have come about because of the prevailing theory at the time that shows longer than a few minutes would have no success online. Seinfeld explained that this was the reason other tech companies expressed wariness. Ultimately, it wasn’t the coffee but the cars that came forward. The sole sponsor of the show has been Acura, and the partnership seems to have worked very well.
Seinfeld proved all of them wrong, with a hit show running 11 seasons with guests other shows would die for. While the show has not been officially ended, Seinfeld has indicated that he might be moving on.
To this day, you have to wonder if the CEO of Starbucks can ever see Seinfeld’s face without regretfully thinking about his mistake.