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Five Content Marketing Takeaways From Ron Burgundy

by Adam Weinroth  |  
January 29, 2014
  |  6,191 views

The near-ubiquitous media presence of Will Ferrell's fictional character Ron Burgundy for Paramount's release of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" has rightfully earned high praise for breaking new ground in marketing.

But that marketing campaign became an instant classic by virtue of more than just rich mahogany and real bits of panther; it owes much of its success to great content—and great content strategy.

Having crossed the $100 million box office sales threshold in the US, Mr. Burgundy's got many marketers wondering how they, too, can combine content marketing, advertising, and social media for great business results.

Here are five important content marketing lessons we can take away from Mr. Burgundy's latest endeavors.

1. Blur the lines between content and advertising


Were the Dodge Durango spots really ads? Or were they a viral content platform for driving demand and excitement for Anchorman 2? Was Ron Burgundy's North Dakota newscast simply a special treat for news viewers, or was it a brilliant way to stoke a viral storm of interest around the film?

Burgundy seemed to be at his best when you weren't quite sure if it was an ad disguised as content or content in the form of an ad.

Think about ways that you can have parts of your advertising and content live "double lives," support one another, and integrate.


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Adam Weinroth is chief marketing officer of OneSpot, a content sequencing platform used by leading brands to personalize their content and drive repeat engagement.

LinkedIn: Adam Weinroth

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  • by Louis Gudema Wed Jan 29, 2014 via web

    Really? The campaign was a failure: the movie opened with weaker box office than the first one (despite ticket prices rising 25% between openings). Basically the "strategy" was to carpet bomb people until they were tired of the character and didn't need to see the movie. See my full analysis here:
    http://louisgudema.com/2014/01/03/why-did-the-marketing-for-anchorman-2-fail/

  • by Zack Gruczkowski Thu Jan 30, 2014 via web

    Excellent marketing strategy execution, anchored by something that the majority of brands do not have--a lovable spokesperson who IS the brand. That's why Ron Burgundy was able to cross all the lines between advertising for another brand and promoting the movie. People were so enraptured with who he was and what he was saying that they would listen in any time they saw that luxurious sportscoat and that highly stylized coif. I mean, how many different unrelated brands and industries did he work with...?

    Most brands don't have that innate and unique something, be it a spokesperson, an icon, etc., that draws people in and forces them to listen because they love that 'something'. Burgundy pulled off cross-promotions flawlessly; I was sold every time.

    Too bad the movie was a big boring flop. I wonder how that will affect the Ron Burgundy brand next go round...

  • by David Levy Thu Jan 30, 2014 via web

    Gotta say I agree with Louis. Seems like the "strategy" was "do everything you can think of." And, to Zack's point about spokespeople, you need one (or a Ronald McDonald-like icon) to inhabit all these channels.

    Based on the box office failure, the strategy probably didn't pay off as much as the studio wanted for this particular release. Potential viewers got the sense that by seeing "Ron" all over the place they had already felt part of the joke and the broader experience, so did not feel the need to fork of the dough to sit through the flick.

  • by James H. Thu Jan 30, 2014 via web

    It saddens me that the commercials were funnier than the movie; however, I do think the Ron Burgundy features in content marketing certainly broke new ground regardless of its lagging success in the long run. (I attribute most of the problems to the fact the movie was hyped up for over a year only to massively disappoint its audience in the long run).

  • by Carl Hartman Tue Feb 18, 2014 via web

    The ad business is always disingenuous. That spot was advertising, still not trusted. People my watch the ad, but it won't drive a single purchase. None of this is effective content marketing, it's the same old crap we see of cross promotion, its nothing new. This is just another weak ploy at promoting your own product. Once again, content marketing is just a new buzzword for the same old crap that did not work before. None of the media generated for the film was different than was done 5, 10, or 20 years ago.

    As a former executive for one of the major networks, I can tell you that the entertainment industry does not use traditional ad techniques; 80% of media property marketing is leveraged word-of-mouth.

    Guilt by association rarely works well when it is an afterthought or add on. The Harvard Business Review recently had a great article on why this kind of product placement is dead.

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