Ron Burgundy, Advertising Vanguard
Ron Burgundy is a Renaissance man. He can anchor a newscast with the gravity of Walter Cronkite. He can play the flute with the aplomb of a Juilliard graduate. And it turns out he can even sell cars. The bombastic Burgundy, played by comedian Will Ferrell in the 2004 hit movie Anchorman, will return to the big screen in December when Paramount Pictures releases its long-awaited sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the meantime, Burgundy is keeping busy moonlighting as the celebrity pitchman for the 2014 Dodge Durango SUV.
In October, Chrysler Group began rolling out the ads, which feature Ferrell as Burgundy, showing off the seductive wonders of the SUV. “I’m the only one with the guts to tell you about this glove box,” says Burgundy in one spot. “It comfortably fits two turkey sandwiches or 70 packs of gum … gum for days. Is this a gumball machine? No. It’s a Dodge Durango.”
Originally, Chrysler envisioned a campaign with three to six TV spots, according to Advertising Age. Instead, Ferrell’s creative team ended up writing and producing 70 different commercials of varying length and format, which include everything from a staring match with a horse to a wacky rant against ads that showcase ballroom dancers and their “soiled leg warmers.”
Not long ago, hiring a Hollywood star for a major campaign guaranteed that all the spots would air in heavy rotation on prime-time TV. No longer. While the first Burgundy ads premièred during major TV shows such as NBC’s Saturday Night Live, the majority of the buffoonery seems destined for even smaller screens. Chrysler and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy will spread the ads across Web platforms, ranging from YouTube to dodge.com to Ferrell’s own funnyordie.com.
TV remains the dominant outlet for advertising, accounting for 57.6 percent of global ad spending in the second quarter of 2013, according to Nielsen. But advertising on the Internet is growing faster than on any other medium, jumping 26.6 percent worldwide so far this year. Big brands such as Dodge can ill afford to choose one or the other. As a result, pitchmen like Ferrell are no longer shackled to the living room TV.