The Ron Burgundy Viral Marketing Approach

If it seems like every time you turn on the TV you’re seeing Will Ferrell in character as Ron Burgundy, you’d be right. Leading up to the release of Anchorman 2 is a hugely popular viral marketing effort by Paramount Pictures. But this is no run-of-the-mill viral marketing; it’s an all-out comedic attack on viewers designed to draw attention, get a few laughs, and ultimately get people into the theater to see the movie when it comes out December 18.

As part of the promotions leading up to the movie release, Ferrell in complete Ron Burgundy character has:

ron burgundy bismarck news

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy anchors a newscast in Bismarck, ND on Nov. 30, 2013 as part of a viral marketing effort promoting the new Anchorman 2 movie.

• Appeared on “Conan” in full Burgundy garb to announce the sequel
• Filmed 70 (yes, 70!) Dodge commercials, though only a few have aired
• Unveiled a self-titled temporary exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, DC
• Launched a new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” 
• Announced that Kanye West and Paul Rudd are working on an “Anchorman” album
• Released an “autobiographical” book called “Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings” 
• Anchored a newscast in Bismarck, North Dakota 
• Made a guest appearance on TSN’s coverage of the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials 
• Interviewed Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning on ESPN
• And rumor has it, he’s going to anchor ABC’s Good Morning America in the coming weeks (this is completely unconfirmed, but would certainly be in line with the other things he’s done)
(For a fairly complete list, go here)

This level of viral marketing truly raises the bar in how movies approach promoting upcoming releases, and it also illustrates how a well-selected movie promotion can help a brand. Case in point: sales of Dodge Durango increased 59% in October, which is when the commercials started airing. That’s a 50% lift for that vehicle year-to-date and represents a 12% increase in all vehicle sales year-over-year for Chrysler. That’s some serious cashing in on a well-made movie tie-in.


Anchorman 2 pster

Anchorman 2 opens Dec. 18, 2013.

Does Ron Burgundy represent the turning point in viral marketing efforts by movie studios? Perhaps. Ferrell was exceptional – maybe even the exception to the rule – and allowed himself to be involved in the creative development of these ads. He dedicated significant amounts of his time and effort to appear on shows, film commercials, and show up at other random places and times on an international basis all for the purpose of promoting the movie via his Ron Burgundy character.

If predictions hold true, Anchorman 2 will far surpass the original Anchorman opening weekend ($28.4 million) and total US gross ($85.3 million).

Whether or not the movie is better than the original remains to be seen. In the meantime (you know what’s coming) … Stay Classy, Interweb Readers, wherever you are.

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