Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’s Massive Marketing Campaign

By J. Sperling Reich | December 17, 2013 9:55 am PST
'Anchorman 2' Teams Up With Jockey

If “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” should fail at the box office when it opens in most territories on December 18th, it won’t be for lack marketing. In fact, Paramount Pictures, the studio releasing the film, and actor Will Ferrell, who plays the movie’s title character, have been on what seems to be an unprecedented campaign to build awareness of the movie’s upcoming release. At this point if you don’t know that “Anchorman 2” is hitting cinemas in a couple of days, you may not be human or might possibly be living on another planet.

The movie is a sequel to the 2004 comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. Set in the 1970s, the film features Ferrell as a Scotch soaked San Diego newscaster who gets demoted after being demoted upon the arrival of a female anchor, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Along with reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), Burgundy cooks up a plan to get his old job back. A modest success theatrically, the film made USD $91 million worldwide, though become a pop culture sensation once it hit home video.

The marketing efforts for “Anchorman 2” got underway even before principal photography began. In March of 2012, Ferrell put in a surprise appearance on Conan, a late night talk show, dressed in full Ron Burgundy regalia and tooting on the faux newscaster’s trademark flute. Never breaking character Ferrell, as Burgundy, told the ecstatic audience that there would indeed be an “Anchorman 2”. That kind of viral marketing stunt has been duplicated en masse as the initial release of the sequel nears.

“Anchorman 2” has so many cross promotional deals, marketing tie-ins and licensing deals it is hardly possible to cover them in a single blog post. I wonder if there is even anyone at Paramount Pictures that has been able to keep an accurate count. (I’m sure there is, though they’ve probably had to put in a ton of overtime). This doesn’t even take into account press appearences and social media campaigns, all of which have been shuffled into the marketing deck en route to achieving total awareness of the movie.

The following is an attempt to capture just some of the marketing and promotional efforts supporting the release of “Anchorman 2” at the time of posting.

Marketing Tie-Ins and Licensing

  • Dodge Durango – At the beginning of October, Dodge began posting dozens of ads to YouTube featuring Ferrell as Ron Burgundy promoting the company’s new sport utility vehicle. Ferrell apparently shot 70 of these consistently funny spots, which would go on to appear in cinemas and on television. The advertising campaign, which was put together by the firm Weiden + Kennedy, proved hugely successful with Forbes magazine reporting a 60% year-over-year increase in sales of the Durango during the month of October. Meanwhile the commercials have racked up more than 20 million views on websites such as YouTube.
  • Newseum – Newseum is a museum focused on journalism and the media based in Washington, D.C. In a partnership with Paramount Pictures, Newseum is putting on “Anchorman: The Exhibit” which is running from this past fall through August of 2014. One aspect of the exhibit allows visitors to “#AskRon” questions via Twitter, which only helps spread the word about the film that much more.
  • Jockey International – The underwear manufacturer released a line of retro underwear that was featured in and inspired by the latest “Anchorman” installment. You know your leaving no stone unturned in your marketing campaign when you’ve somehow managed to tie-in men’s underwear. The last time Jockey made underwear associated with a movie was for the 1950 Bob Hope film “Fancy Pants”. In case you’re interested, you can pick up a pair of Jockey underwear in Beard of Zeus Blue or Sex Panther Red.
  • Crown Publishing – A memoir titled “Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings” written by Burgundy himself was released in November with excerpts running in the New Yorker beforehand.
  • Ben & Jerry’s – For a limited time the Vermont based ice cream company will be selling an “Anchorman” inspired flavor dubbed “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” in honor of Ron Burgundy’s favorite libation.
  • Miller Lite – For a limited time MillerCoors will be bringing back the original Miller Lite can from the early 1980s. The aluminum beverage holder makes an appearance or two in “Anchorman 2”.
  • Hot Topic – The pop culture retailer is selling a number of “Anchorman” related t-shirts and merchandise.

Personal and Promotional Appearances

  • Conan – On March 28, 2012, Ron Burgundy showed up on the late night talk show to announce a sequel to “Anchorman” was in the works. The official clip has been viewed more than 5.6 million times on YouTube.
  • YouTube – On September 5, 2013, a video of Burgundy commenting on (making fun of) the recent Australian elections was posted to the YouTube account of Paramount Pictures Australia.
  • KIVI – On October 31, 2013, Paul Gerke, the on air sportscaster at KIVI in Boise, Idaho dresses up as Burgundy for Halloween and delivers the evening’s sports update using a spot-on Ron Burgundy impersonation. Technically not a true Burgundy appearance, but the video of Gerke manages to slip in a plug for the Dodge Durango and has been viewed 3.4 million times on YouTube.
  • The Project – On November 25, 2013, Burgundy showed up on an Australian talk show and goes head-to-head with famed journalist Ray Martin. In a review of his “career” he explains that he has covered 10 wars as an anchor… two of which he started.
  • KXMB – On December 1, 2013, Burgundy spends a hilarious half-hour co-anchoring the local evening news at a Bismark, Dakota television station.
  • TSN Curling – On December 1, 2013, Burgundy joined Vic Rauter of TSN to help call a curling event in Canada. If it had been any other sport the stunt may have gone unnoticed, but curling provided the perfect fit of irony and sarcasm.
  • Yahoo! – On December 2, 2013, Burgundy turned up on the home page of Yahoo! to present the annual Year In Review report.
  • Fandango – On December 3, 2013, Burgundy appeared in a video to promote the “Anchorman 2” Super Ticket promotion on the Internet ticketing company’s website.
  • Emerson College – On December 4, 2013, Burgundy addresses the faculty and students of Emerson College when they rename their communications school the Ron Burgundy School of Communication for a single day. News and video of the event is carried by hundreds of media outlets including the New York Times.
  • ESPN – On December 6, 2013, Burgundy interviews Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning on ESPN. A clip of the interview has been viewed 3.6 million times on YouTube.
  • IGN – On December 12, 2013, Burgundy stopped by IGN to provide reviews and commentary on a subject he knows nothing about; video games such as “Grand Theft Auto”.

Website Homepage Takeovers

  • IMDb
  • Huffington Post
  • MSN
  • Yahoo!

Finally, though social media was just being invented when the original “Anchorman” was released in 2004, the sequel has left no social network untouched as it spreads the word through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and even Pinterest. Here are links to a few of the networks along with the number of followers, subscribers, likes, etc. each account has (when available):

J. Sperling Reich