There is no “in case you’ve been living under a rock” in terms of the awareness level of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” the long overdue sequel to 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” If you’ve lived under said rock in the last month, chances are Will Ferrell, in full Ron Burgundy regalia, has lifted up your stone and convivially asked you the way to San Diego. It’s also very possible Ferrell/Burgundy asked you if you needed any underpants, ice cream or Scotch while he was down there on his knees messing up his well-tailored maroon-colored pants, all in the name of not-so-subtly enlightening you to the existence of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
This is to say the marketing barrage and promo tie-ins for the film of late have been certifiably ubiquitous and near assaultive. Sure, there have always been pre-release marketing tie-ins before (“The Dark Knight” and Mountain Dew for example, or Gillette and “Man of Steel”), and some were pretty elaborate, but the sheer scope and volume of what’s being produced (under the supervision of Ferrell and director Adam McKay) is truly staggering. It’s either game-changing, portentous or obnoxious, depending on your point of view. Adweek recently claimed that the sequel is “changing the way movies are marketed,” thanks to its sheer promotional omnipresence, the location specificity of some of the spots, and the combination of old school approaches with new school technology. (Tumblr has been a huge part of the campaign, but so has good ol’ personal appearances on TV.) Marketing Mag calls it “a lesson in the new rules of content marketing.”
The potentially disturbing element of it is how often this marketing is described as “original content,” which brings to mind the paid content advertainment that Buzzfeed and other media outlets are turning towards to keep the lights on. Even the star and director seem stunned by the ‘Anchorman 2’ onslaught. “This has been the most comprehensive amount of material I’ve ever participated in,” Ferrell told Adweek via email. “I’m taken aback.” Meanwhile, McKay told the same magazine, “I barely knew what a meme or GIF was when we started the campaign.” (Please take a minute to realize that McKay is the co-creator of Funny or Die, one of the most popular hubs for online-based humor.) “But those terms starting coming out and I would be like, ‘You mean a good joke?’ To me, those are just new words for premises, tropes or riffs. The only big difference to me is the riff is now often going on a loop.”
Is this “original content” marketing the new black? Should we expect this for all tentpoles moving forward? The upside, as many have noted is, Paramount isn’t overdoing it and spoiling all the jokes with myriad trailers, clips, TV spots, etc. The content of ‘Anchorman 2’ itself has largely remained under wraps, and as fans of comedic movies who have been burned in the past with jokes and gags spoiled in the trailers, this may be seen as somewhat of a relief. That said, are you overwhelmed or buried underneath the weight of Ron Burgundy’s suffocating polyester suit? Is this campaign successful or insidious? We leave the question open to you. Here are the ways the sequel will (perhaps shameless) market itself to you, whether you like it or not.
When You Buy Ice Cream
‘Anchorman 2’ teamed up with Ben & Jerry’s to produce a limited edition flavor named for Burgundy’s favorite liquor. That’s right: next time you’re in the mood for Klondike bars, you might want to try a pint of Scotchy Scotch Scotch, a “limited batch” the label describes as “Butterscotch Ice Cream with Butterscotch Swirls.” To which we say: Jesus Christ that’s a lot of butterscotch.
When You Buy Underwear
In one of the more bizarre tie-ins of this whole campaign (which is really saying something), the team partnered with Jockey underwear for their “Low Rise Y-front Brief” line. Um. The official website says that the “unique Y-front fly provides ample support for your little anchorman,” and comes in two “stylish colors that say ‘I’m kind of a big deal!’ “: sex panther red and beard of Zeus blue. Okay then.
When You’re Curious About Who’s On The Cover Of Dog Fancy Magazine
Will Ferrell is the first celebrity to ever grace the cover of Dog Fancy magazine, along with his four-legged costar Baxter, which is pretty weird (he showed off the cover during a recent interview with Conan O’Brien). But what’s even weirder is that Ferrell conducted a 3-minute-long video interview for the magazine while dressed as Ron Burgundy but not in character. In it he talks about how he was never able to have a dog as a child and now loves them deeply. It’s pretty adorable.
When You’re Picking Out A Car
In what is undoubtedly the most charming and hilarious bit of Anchorman marketing miscellanea, Ferrell-as-Burgundy hosted a seemingly endless (there were 70 in total) stream of television ads for Dodge, primarily focusing on the Dodge Durango. What’s amazing is that it worked—Forbes points out that the Durango saw a 59% increase in sales this October (when the ads started airing) compared to last year. Part of the reason these ads work so well is that it’s placing Ron Burgundy in a modern context, something that adds a fish-out-of-water element to his already goofy charm.
When You’re Looking For Something To Read
Ron Burgundy’s “autobiography” (written by Ferrell with help from McKay), “Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings,” was recently released. Ferrell-as-Burgundy showed off one of the book’s illustrations (a map of intellectual animal superiority) on “Conan.” It was also excerpted in the hallowed pages of The New Yorker and Ferrell showed up in LA to sign copies of the book in character. And yes, it’s even available on Kindle.
When You’re Watching The Local News
Over the weekend, Ron Burgundy took over the local news in Bismarck, North Dakota, filling in for KXMB’s Saturday night newscast. More uncomfortable than funny, Ferrell gamely read the local news off a teleprompter and tried to engage with his robotic, overtly earnest female co-anchor Amber Schatz.
When You Go To Check Facebook
One of the biggest components of the campaign has to do with social media. The Adweek article notes that Paramount’s “strategy revolves around user-generated content and earned social media, Facebook and Twitter ads and homepage takeovers on sites like Yahoo and MSN will bolster those elements.” They also inked a huge deal with social media platform Tumblr. Megan Wahtera, who works for Paramount’s interactive marketing division, told the magazine, “Our fans have been creating content and essentially marketing for us. But it’s our job to feed the frenzy.” Part of this strategy includes a “Join Ron’s News Team” contest, where people use hash tags to designate what part of the news team they would best be a part of. What makes this contest even stranger is that there are no actual prizes, just the adulation of the Internet and other like-minded nerds. And really, isn’t the best prize of all?
When You’re Buying Beer
Coors Light, apparently suffering from sagging sales, is bringing back the old school retro can next year, and guess who they’re using to promote the return? That’s right, Ron Burgundy. So if you see the newsman casually swigging from an all-white can in the movie, you know what he’s sipping from.
When You’re Buying Actual Booze
So there’s butterscotch-flavored ice cream and depressing light beer, dressed up in a new/old package, but what about the actual scotch? It is, after all, Ron Burgundy’s drink of choice. Well, fear not. Riviera Imports is introducing a Ron Burgundy scotch entitled “Great Odin’s Raven Special Reserve.” Each bottle will set you back $25 and if you consume it directly before seeing “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” it’ll probably make things a whole lot funnier.
When You’re Watching ESPN
On December 5th, Ron Burgundy will host the widely watched “SportsCenter” on ESPN. Consider yourself warned. Oh, and if you want a little taste, look at him interviewing Peyton Manning, who just seems kind of confused. (Note: another ESPN appearance was canceled today—are we a day away from hearing about Ron Burgundy being hospitalized for “exhaustion”?)
When You’re Attending A Canadian Curling Event
Um… So earlier this week Ron Burgundy found his way to Winnipeg for the Roar of the Rings, “the biggest curling event of the season,” which will determine who will represent Canada at the Winter Olympics. While on hand, Burgundy pronounced Winnipeg to be “the Paris of Canada.” He then made a bunch of regional-specific jokes that we can’t make heads or tails of (another huge part of this campaign), while vowing to bring “dignity and class” to the sport of curling.
When You’re Absent-Mindedly Playing A Videogame On Your Phone
Move over Candy Crush, here comes Scotch Toss, a game where you flick cubes of ice into an adult beverage while being spurred on by Ron Burgundy himself (Ferrell recorded more than 300 voiceovers for the game). This is another part of the movie’s ambitious social networking plan because the game encourages players to share their scores and statistics online.
When You’re Watching Your Favorite Awards Show
Earlier this year, Burgundy appeared with the French robots known as Daft Punk on a segment recorded for the MTV European Music Awards. He rode around Amsterdam with the robots on a tandem bicycle and called them “two inexplicable continentals from outer space.” This week he appeared with the cast on the CMT Awards, which honors country music’s finest. Is it too early to start campaigning for a Burgundy-hosted Oscar ceremony? That’d really class things up after last year’s MacFarlane misfire.
When You Are Thinking “Gee, What Else Can I Buy With My Movie Ticket”
Say you’re on Fandango and you’re buying your ticket to “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” for your local AMC theater, but you think, “Gee, I’d really love to see this movie early and with a bunch of unnecessary added doodads, for a heftily inflated price.” Well, you’re in luck, because a “superticket” for ‘Anchorman 2’ is being offered for select AMC markets, via Fandango. For $33 you get a digital download of the alternate version of the original film (“Anchorman – Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie“), a pre-order digital code for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” weeks before it’s released on traditional home video formats, and a $5 concession card, which should be enough to buy you half a Hershey bar. In a newly recorded ad (of course), Burgundy said, “I’m sorry, America, I will not be making sweet love to your wife, but you’ll get all that other ‘Anchorman’ stuff. I will still make love to your wife, but not as part of this promotional package. It will be a personal gift from me, Ron Burgundy, and clearly not endorsed by anybody here.”
When You’re Visiting A Washington, D.C.-Area Museum
The Newseum in Washington, D.C., a museum dedicated to news and journalism, recently debuted “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” which includes a “re-creation of the KVWN-TV anchor desk” that allows visitors to “pose for photo ops.” The exhibit also “explores the reality behind the humor of the film by telling the story of the challenges women faced when they arrived in newsrooms in the 1970s.” Also the website says that “We’re 72% sure that you’ll love it 100% of the time.” So there’s that.
But is this all just a little much? USA Today posed the question as to whether or not this is ‘Anchorman’ overload, especially for a movie that was more of a cult phenomenon then an outright sensation the first time around. And by time this article hits there could be at least five more examples that we’d need to add. Maybe, with everyone in the Ron Burgundy frame of mind, the sequel will be a smash. Or maybe it will be a modest hit that, years from now, will feature another sequel and, of course, an accompanying rash of product tie-ins and marketing opportunities.