Branding

What Ron Burgundy Can Teach Us About Marketing

Great Odin’s Raven! Ron Burgundy is a man—an anchorman—but apparently, his talents extend beyond the newsroom and the jazz flute. Since Dodge and Will Ferrell teamed up to make his fictional character the spokesman for the 2014 Durango, his series of absurd (and frequently off-topic) ads have done more for the car manufacturer than just garner attention.

According to Dodge, web traffic for the brand has jumped an astonishing 80 percent since the ads started running, and that’s not all—Durango sales increased 59 percent in October, and are up 50 percent for the year.

Clearly, he’s kind of a big deal.

So what can the most infamous news anchor in San Diego teach us about marketing? You don’t need any leather-bound books, or even a miniature Buddha covered in hair to find the answers—these lessons work 60 percent of the time, all the time.

Entertainment Value Can Be as Important as Information

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Sometimes you have to deliver an urgent and horrifying news story. Other times, you’re just sharing footage of a squirrel who can water ski. And just like in the news, a little entertainment value in your ads can go a long way.

Crafting an advertisement that has entertainment value—that people will actually enjoy watching, and that leaves them with a positive impression of your brand—is just as important as communicating facts.

Some of the Ron Burgundy ads veer off topic. By a lot, actually. He argues with a horse, or chases a pair of dancers off his stage. In one of the early ads (Ferrell filmed a whopping total of 70), he spends the entire commercial talking about the car’s glove compartment.

It’s highly unlikely that Durango sales jumped almost 60 percent in a month because consumers were sold on the value of the glove box. The entertainment value of the ads, however, gives viewers a positive association with the brand. You don’t necessarily need a spokesman whose voice can make a wolverine purr—you just need to keep people interested.

Humor Gets Viewers, and Gets People Talking

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A few short years ago, movie executives would rather jump into a pit of grizzly bears than seriously consider funding an “Anchorman” sequel. Today, however, “redemption” is spelled “R-O-N.”

Audiences love the news anchor more than they love lamp, and his offbeat brand of humor has put all eyes on Dodge. The ads have done more than drive sales and give the Dodge website a massive traffic increase—they’re YouTube hits, and that’s no optical illusion.

The first ad, uploaded October 4th, has already racked up more than 2 million views, with the other four hovering around 1 million views apiece. Burgundy isn’t just the number one news anchor in San Diego—he’s an Internet sensation.

Creating an advertisement that resonates with your core audience is one thing, but the Durango commercials aren’t just popular with car enthusiasts—they’re getting the attention of a wide audience, and they’re constantly being shared and redistributed across the web.

Ron Burgundy’s humor not exactly your glass of scotch? That’s perfectly fine. But when you’re working in a B2C industry, having a sense of humor and personality can make your advertising—especially web video—infinitely more shareable.

Everyone Can Win with Cross-Promotion

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Of course, it takes more than three fingers of Glenlivet to get Ron Burgundy to shill for a car company—this god walking amongst mere mortals has a little something to gain, as well.

With “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” hitting movie theaters next month, Ferrell’s string of ads as the newsman is giving the film and the mustachioed hero at its center some serious exposure.

Opportunities for cross-promotion aren’t always easy to come by, especially because their success can be wildly unpredictable—who would have thought that Ron Burgundy and SUVs would be such a natural fit? When you do see the opportunity to partner with another brand in a cross-promotion, though, take it seriously, and consider making a thoughtful pitch. By helping each other reach complementary goals, two businesses can save money, gain access to valuable resources and reach a bigger audience.

Ron Burgundy has only been promoting the Durango for about a month, and he’s already made a huge measureable impact for both the brand’s visibility and its bottom line. Only when the campaign comes to its end will we see what other lessons Dodge and Mr. Burgundy have to impart—until then, you stay classy, planet Earth.

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