Tag Archives: Olivier Francois

Mystique of Dodge’s Ron Burgundy Blitz

Dodge’s over-the-top Durango blitz starring Will Ferrell, seems to be heading into the realm of cult status.

The campaign features dozens of video with the actor reprising his 2004 film role as the obnoxious 1970s’ “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy.

Yes, Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois is at it again, showing his penchant for using big names in advertising.

The Dodge brand’s irreverent big tone and attitude make Ron Burgundy the perfect pitchman for the new 2014 Dodge Durango,” he said.

The Dodge brand irreverent? Since when? I do recall the irreverent “that thing got a Hemi in it” Dodge ads with comic Jon Reep. But that was back in the DaimlerChrysler days. And those Hemi ads were for the Dodge Ram. Now Ram is a separate brand from Dodge.

Chrysler said it didn’t pay anything for Ferrell to appear in the campaign. That’s because this is a co-promotional deal. Every Durango ad touts the upcoming “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” movie with Farrell, arriving around Christmas. Don’t kid yourself, Chrysler is spending tens of millions of dollars in media promotion to promote this movie for Paramount Pictures.

The buzz for the Durango push has been incredible, already attracting 15 million views on YouTube since hitting national television in October. The media push includes print, Facebook and Twitter.

If you have somehow miraculously missed seeing any of these commercials from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, here is one of the latest, posted December 7, touting the Durango’s good looks

In just 4 days this attracted almost 90,400 views.

Dodge’s ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, worked with Farrell’s Funny Or Die website to write the spots.

The news coverage of this enormous campaign has been mind-boggling. Traffic to Durango’s web site has jumped by 80%. Most important, Durango sales have increased dramatically: 59% higher in October and 36% in November versus the same year-ago months.

And what would a major blitz be without a sweepstakes? There was also a 6-day online contest last month to win a 2014 Durango and other prizes. Visitors to Handsonronburgundy.com had to keep their “hands” (via their mouse) on the Anchorman the longest. The contest kicked off online with a YouTube video that, even though the contest is over, is still attracting views, now topping 287,000.

Are you laughing yet?

Several fellow reporters have told come to me puzzled about the work, saying “I don’t get it.” They, like myself, are baby boomers.

Simply put, this work is not for us. It’s aimed at a younger target.

My unscientific research reveals that younger people have a very different sense of humor and definition of funny than boomers. Think of TV’s “The Office.” The show is wildly popular even though plenty of us boomers don’t “get” it.

And thus it is with Mr. Burgundy and Dodge.

I must admit that the work breaks through the clutter. With some 70 executions- how could it not? The Burgundy character in his tacky outfit, bad hair and clueless attitude pulls viewers in like a magnet whether you saw or even know of the first “Anchorman” movie.This is not your father’s car advertising. The draw is similar to the “rubber-necking” effect of motorists slowing to a virtual stand still to check out traffic accidents. It’s advertising you might love to hate.

Speaking of fender benders, Ferrell called the Durango “a terrible car” in an interview with Conan O’Brien, a few weeks ago. “They gave me one for free, and I drove it four feet and the thing cracked in half,” he told the late-night host.

Ouch!

Doing some quick PR work, Chrysler explained that Ferrell was merely acting as Ron Burgundy and they weren’t upset.

But quite a few of online comments reacting on YouTube to the segment agreed with Ferrell and blasted Chrysler quality. Not exactly a very good thing. Not at all.

You’ve got to wonder whether Ferrell will be back as a Dodge spokesman for Anchorman 3.

My guess is no.

MAKING TRACKS: Brent Dewar joins NASCAR as COO. Dewar worked at GM from 1978 to 2010, with stints that included VP of Chevy globally and VP of marketing and sales.

MAKING TRACKS II: Gareth Kay becomes co-owner of the new San Francisco office of Minneapolis-based creative consultancy Zeus Jones and will also be founding partner of the West Coast office. Kay was chief strategy officer at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.  His resume includes stops at Modernista, Lowe and TBWA.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook and on Twitter :@jhal2001

*This first appeared as Jean Halliday’s “AdRant” in CNWs subscriber-only, online auto industry report.

(This first ran as

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Ram Ropes Cowboy Theme: “Guts. Glory.”

Chrysler Group’s Ram truck brand (formerly part of Dodge) is using cowboys and the Old West for its new multi-media ad campaign. The work, from Richards Group in Dallas, introduces the new tag “Guts. Glory. Ram.” It replaces “I am Ram.”
The first :60 national intro commercial, dubbed “Code of the West,” sets the stage for the blitz

Too bad the pickup doesn’t show up until more than half-way into the commercial.
Cowbows aren’t a new Big Idea for truck advertising. It’s almost a bad cliché.
Chevrolet was big on it. Here’s one from Campbell-Ewald for the 1997 model Silverado


Even GM sibling Pontiac used cowboys – for the Montana minivan – in the late ’90s to try to be more appealing to men. D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles’ Detroit-area handled and used Robert Mitchum to narrate:

In probably the most bizarre use of cowboys to peddle a light truck, Mitsubishi had this spot for the 1998 Montero suv from G2, Santa Monica, which soon after, not surprisingly, lost the account


Who doesn’t love cowboys and the romance of the Old West? It’s rugged and oh, so American. And what’s not to like about actor Sam Elliott’s rich voice narrating the Ram commercials?

Olivier Francois, Chrysler Group’s French-born CMO, has a penchant for edgy work that generates buzz, a la Chrysler brand’s 200 Super Bowl “Imported From Detroit” commercial with Eminem. The official word from Francois on the new pickup work is : “the Ram Truck brand has always had the guts to perform and innovate – today, it continues to live by those rules and conducts. The brand’s outstanding craftsmanship and beliefs are delivered in this campaign by using the rustic Old West as the perfect juxtaposition of past and present American values; a time when hard working and well-crafted man-made machines were a must.”
That American craftsmanship idea, and the tone of the Ram ads, also run deep in the automaker’s Jeep advertising “The Things We Make, Make Us,” introduced a year ago for launch of the new Grand Cherokee by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland.
Ram does take the cowboy thing to a new level. This work is generally visually arresting and interesting. That said, the big question is can this cowboy theme be sustained for Ram? Will it last as long as “Like a Rock” for Chevrolet?
I think not.

MAKING TRACKS: Tim Ellis

has gone to California and joined Activision as exec VP and CMO from Volkswagen, where he had been VP of marketing since December 2007. We wondered here earlier this spring about his future at VW after Tim Mahoney split from Subaru of America to be VW’s CMO and chief product officer. Ellis was to report to Mahoney.

Follow  me on Twitter: @jhal2001