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