When Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy says, “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal”, he isn’t kidding (Apatow and McKay, 2004). The first Anchorman film, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was released in 2004 and made a gross profit of over 90 million dollars worldwide (IMDB, 2015). When the sequel to the popular film was due to come out in 2013 the team behind Anchorman wanted to show just how big a deal it was going to be.
To make sure the sequel was going to be a hit Paramount Pictures and digital focused shop Zemoga created an advertising campaign that became “a model for the future of movie marketing” (Heine, 2013). The social media marketing campaign spread throughout different channels across the Internet (and beyond). Ron Burgundy was everywhere in 2013: from Tumblr to Twitter, Facebook to Pinterest, and even North Dakota’s KXMB-TV News to an interactive exhibit at the Newseum in Washington DC (Maccabee, 2013).
What exactly was Burgundy doing to make such a scene?
Instead of doing the typical “one-size-fits-all” type of advertising, Paramount embraced the interactivity of Social Media and created a customizable campaign (Maccabee, 2013). By working with Zemoga, Paramount employed a “social media styled casting call” named “Join Ron’s News Crew”. It was a “talent-show like initiative” that encouraged people from around the world to audition for the positions of “anchor (#TeamRon), meteorologist (#TeamBrick), sportscaster (#TeamChamp), and live reporter (#Team Brian)”. Paramount released a video on YouTube featuring Ron himself looking for people to join his team on November 11, 2013 to launch the campaign. There was no prize for the winners except the 15 minutes of fame they may get from “big time YouTube views and social buzz”. (Heine, 2013)
Contestants were able to create their own characters based on the “Anchorman phenomenon”. Zemoga’s CEO, DJ Edgerton, explained, “one of the beautiful and disruptive components of social [media] is that the cream rises to the top. The creative director doesn’t decide what’s best at the end of the day-the audience does”. The competition included web voting and a panel of celebrity judges. The videos were promoted through Anchorman and Ron Burgundy’s “enormous” Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest followings. (Heine, 2013)
Paramount’s strategy for promoting the film revolved around: user-generated content, “Facebook and Twitter ads, and homepage takeovers on sites like Yahoo” and the Huffington Post to help increase the buzz. The campaigns such as “Join Ron’s News Crew” allowed the fans to create content and “essentially market for [Paramount]”, Megan Wahtera, Paramount’s svp of interactive marketing explained. Their job was just to “feed the frenzy”. (Heine, 2013)
The paid elements of the campaign were designed to “piggyback on the momentum” that was generated by
thousands of GIFS found on Tumblr, where at the time “Ron Burgundy” and “Anchorman” were some of the most popular search items in 2013.Paramount had struck the “deepest movie partnership” with Tumblr “to date” (November 2013) with the user generated GIFS and the movie’s own Tumblr filled with clips, GIFS, and memes that further encouraged fan interaction. (Heine, 2013)
David Hayes, lead in Tumblr’s brand focused department, explained that Hollywood is slowly coming to “employ user generated GIFS as branding vehicles”. While the memes may start on Tumblr, they eventually move over to Facebook and Twitter’s “broader platforms” which helps increase the reach of the advertisements. (Heine, 2013)
Besides their various contests and appearances on big social media sites the team wanted to be able to extend their campaign globally. Because comedy does not always translate well between cultures Ferrell and Adam McKay (co-writer with Ferrell) created customized videos for “far-reaching markets” like the U.K. and Australia. This included a video of Burgundy congratulating Irish actor Jamie Dornan for nabbing the lead in 50 Shades of Gray, and Ron’s “postelection musings on the presidential race” in Australia. (Gachman, 2013)
All the work Paramount and Zemoga put into the campaign was closely monitored to see how the public reacted to their various strategies. With the instant feedback social media gives they were able to see how the audience perceived trailers or extras. This enabled them to make changes and correct parts of the campaign as they went along. In fact, the data they collected led to the creation of the Scotch Toss, a mobile game that enabled social sharing and featured 300 voice overs by Ferrell as Burgundy egging the player on to flick ice cubes into his scotch. (Heine, 2013)
The extensive and hilarious social media marketing campaign to promote Anchorman 2 paid off with a gross profit of over 127 million dollars worldwide (IMDB, 2015). So the next time you’re trying to create an advertising campaign remember how well Ron Burgundy utilized social media because “60% of the time, it works every time”-Brian Fantana (Apatow and McKay, 2004).
Anchorman [Motion picture]. (2004). Universal Pictures Australasia [distributor] ;.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. (2015, January 1). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0357413/
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. (2015, January 1). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1229340/
Gachman, D. (2013, December 11). What The ‘Anchorman 2’ Campaign Can Teach Us About Social Media Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/dinagachman/2013/12/11/what-the-anchorman-2-campaign-can-teach-us-about-social-media-marketing/
Heine, C. (2013, November 24). Will Ferrell’s Anchorman 2 Is Changing the Way Movies Are Marketed. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/will-ferrell-s-anchorman-2-changing-way-movies-are-marketed-154076?page=1
Maccabee, P. (2013, December 19). FIVE CLASSY SOCIAL MEDIA LESSONS FROM ANCHORMAN 2’S RON BURGUNDY. Retrieved from http://info.maccabee.com/blog/bid/329642/Five-Classy-Social-Media-Lessons-From-Anchorman-2-s-Ron-Burgundy