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?