Playing Favorites: Chrysler CMO Picks Top 4 Ron Burgundy Spots

Olivier Francois Isn't Tired of 'Anchorman 2' Promotions Just Yet

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Olivier Francois
Olivier Francois Credit: Chrysler Group LLC

Chrysler CMO Olivier Francois says it would have been silly to hire a comedic "genius" like Will Ferrell to pitch Dodge Durango and ask him to stick to a script written by a copywriter.

Instead, Mr. Francois basically turned over production to Mr. Ferrell and his team from Funny or Die. The results speak for themselves.

The three-month campaign to co-promote the redesigned SUV, and Paramount's Dec. 18 release of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," helped keep Durango sales humming.

Mr. Francois said Mr. Ferrell blew away his expectation of producing five or 10 TV spots. Instead, they ended up with 70 spots. There was so much material that Chrysler's team had trouble deciding what to put on TV and what to put on the Internet. About 40 have appeared either as TV commercials or Web videos. Many of the remaining videos will debut this month as the campaign wraps up.

Chrysler won't comment on spending. But since the auto maker and movie studio worked together -- along with agency Wieden & Kennedy -- the cost of using a big star like Mr. Ferrell was not as high as you might think, he said. From a production standpoint, the spots are as bare bones as you can get. There's Mr. Ferrell in his Ron Burgundy getup, a Durango and a few supporting actors here and there. Put it all together and Dodge got a lot of bang for its buck.

"It was very cost-effective," said Mr. Francois.

With the campaign winding down, Advertising Age asked Mr. Francois for his personal favorites. Like any doting father, the Chrysler CMO said he "loves them all." But he especially enjoys four in particular.

The first is a 30-second spot called "Ride" in which the bumbling 1970's-ere anchorman doesn't realize "MPG" stands for miles per gallon.

"It makes me laugh every time. Every time," said Mr. Francois.

Then there are three spots where the media placement helped the jokes pay off, he said.

There was :60 called "It's Perfect for Sax" showing Burgundy playing the saxophone that aired during the American Music Awards. Mr. Francois said he was in the audience when AMA producers showed it live to the crowd in Los Angeles. The reaction was "hysterical," he said.

Then there were two "Ballroom Dancers" spots that aired on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, in which Burgundy angrily chases what he calls "dirty dancers" off his set.

"They were very funny in the context of Dancing with the Stars," he said.

Overall, the videos have been viewed 15.3 million times and counting on YouTube. The most viewed have been "It Comes Standard" (3.7 million views) and "Staring Contest" (2.6 million). But Mr. Francois credits that ranking with them being the first two videos released.

We might not have seen the last of Ron Burgundy pitching Durango. Mr. Francois said Chrysler might drop a new video for the DVD release of "Anchorman 2." But that's a long way down the road.

Mr. Francois declined to comment on whether Chrysler, as expected, will join General Motors, Hyundai and other auto advertisers during Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.

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